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NSW wind farm defies high-profile critics

The official opening of a wind farm near Canberra has been more than 10 years in the making after objections by high-profile locals and support by big business.

November 29, 2022
By Marion Rae
29 November 2022

A wind farm that has taken more than 10 years to get up and running is powering customers who are determined to use green energy.

The Collector Wind Farm, backed by supply deals with ALDI supermarkets and energy utility Iberdrola, is the largest wind farm that RATCH-Australia has built in this country and will officially open on Tuesday.

The green energy replaces coal-fired sources in the electricity grid and is expected to save 320,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year, or the equivalent of taking 120,000 combustion engine cars off the road.

The wind farm project was once slammed by local Liberal MP Angus Taylor, a former federal energy minister, as being part of an “economically unviable” industry that relied on massive subsidies.

Granted permission by energy market operators last year to become fully operational, the 54 turbines can produce enough to power 80,000 homes.

The wind farm employed more than 150 people during construction and is now managed by 10 full-time staff.

But the project near Lake George in NSW was scaled back from an initial proposal for 63 turbines after local opposition led by Friends of Collector founders Rodd Pahl and Tony Hodgson, who were concerned it would damage their view and health. 

Australia’s green bank, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, helped the project get off the ground as its first lender.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said it was another example of the “bridge to contracting” finance strategy, which enabled RATCH-Australia to begin construction before securing long-term agreements for the green power.

“We’re proud to be working with international renewable developers to invest and expand Australian renewable generation to support the transition to net zero,” he said.

Ross Rolfe, executive chair at Iberdrola Australia, said the Collector Wind Farm saw project developers work closely with them to provide customers with competitively priced green electricity and help accelerate the renewable energy transition.

ALDI Australia spokesman Daniel Baker said the power purchase agreements meant ALDI will become the first supermarket in the country to have all stores, warehouses and offices powered using only renewable electricity sources.

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