More than six years ago, residents of Daylesford, Australia, a town about 70 miles northwest of Melbourne, got together to launch a community-owned wind farm. The 4.1-megawatt (MW) Hepburn Community Wind Farm was finally completed in July this year, and was recently commissioned at Leonards Hill in Hepburn Shire. The project, the first community-owned wind power plant in Australia, consists of two REpower wind turbines located about six miles south of Daylesford in Central Victoria. The two turbines are expected to produce more energy than Daylesford households use each year.
The power plant is owned by a cooperative with more than 1,900 members – most of them local residents. All of the power generated by the wind farm will be purchased by Red Energy. A portion of the revenue from the electricity sales will be deposited in the Hepburn Wind Community Fund, which will support community development projects. According to the group’s website, the fund is the most generous community development fund of its kind in Australia on a per-turbine basis.
The success of the project, which has won several awards, has inspired the neighboring communities of Woodend and Castlemaine to pursue similar plans. However, as in the United States, community-owned wind projects in Australia face many challenges when it comes to financing, permitting and siting wind turbines. According to Hepburn Wind, recently implemented planning regulations in Victoria could prevent further development of community wind projects in the state.
“Australians love renewable energy,” Simon Holmes à Court, chairman of Hepburn Wind, said in a statement. “With the passage of the carbon legislation … many other regional communities will benefit from the transformation of our energy sector.”
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