Hepburn Wind is Australia’s first community-owned wind farm and in central Victoria it has just begun exporting energy to the electricity grid. Congratulations!
There has been considerable interest in the project from universities and from other communities and Simon Holmes a Court, Chairman of Hepburn Wind, says winning a sustainability award is an endorsement of the project.
“The judge signalled out specifically that the amount of engagement undertaken in our community and the number of community members that have been involved in the project all the way along really speaks to how viable the model is and how it can be extended to other communities.”
The wind farm is expected to power more than 2,000 homes when it’s operational and there will be a surplus of power with Hepburn Wind being a net exporter of renewable energy within a year. Simon says:
“We monitored the wind at the site, we had a monitoring tower up for three years, and we analysed that data at the end of that period with an independent wind engineering firm and they’ve predicted that the wind farm will power 2,300 homes. So generate as much power as 2,300 homes use in an average year, and in Daylesford in there are 2,000 homes.”
More than 1700 people from the community have invested almost $9 million to build the wind farm – total cost $13 million – which was this regional community’s response to the threat of climate change.
The project has created three long-term jobs and supported dozens of local businesses during its six year gestation.
This pioneering model will see dividends returned to the members of the co-op and the community, supported through a significant sustainability fund.
Simon says while the project was never meant to be a political statement, he is hoping it provides a good example to the State Government – as it rolls out its new wind policy – about the positives of wind energy.
“It’s been driven by local concern about climate change.
“We just sat down and thought, we’re going to get on with it. So it is nice to be able to show a wide range of stakeholders in the community that a community can benefit from a wind farm and show our leaders that there is a positive role that renewable energy can play in communities.”
A pretty good model for other communities