A spokeswoman for Australia’s largest electricity retailer said it recently commenced a process to assess a range of development options for the wind farm.
"This involves seeking proposals from third parties interested in supplying wind turbines, constructing the wind farm on Origin’s behalf or providing equity for the wind farm’s development while Origin supports it through a power purchase agreement," she said in an emailed statement.
Origin has issued a request for proposals for engineering, procurement and construction of the wind farm near the town of Ballarat, which may cost up to 900 million Australian dollars (US$920 million) to build, a person familiar with the matter told Deal Journal Australia.
Origin is also open to offers from third parties to buy the project, the person said.
In October 2010, the Victorian Minister for Planning approved the construction of 157 wind turbines, down from the 242 units that were originally proposed.
The Australian Government early last year granted approval for the wind turbines, associated onsite infrastructure and the construction of an external powerline and terminal station.
Wind energy has struggled to compete with cheaply available coal and natural gas in Australia till now, despite legislation introduced in 2009 that set a mandatory target to source 20% of national power needs from renewable sources by 2020.
However, deal flow in the clean-energy sector has surged recently as investors become more confident that Canberra’s introduction of a carbon tax from July 1 will protect returns. In addition, the price gap between wind power and natural gas is closing as more gas supply is earmarked for the lucrative export trade.
Last week, Origin signed its largest wind power purchase agreement to date for TrustPower’s planned 270 MW Snowtown II Wind Farm in South Australia state. Excluding Snowtown, which comprises 90 wind turbines, Origin has nine PPAs in place with Australian wind farm operators totaling 457 MW.