A new report released last week forecasts the long-term economic benefits to their local economies of wind farms at Waubra, in central Victoria, and Gunning, in New South Wales, in the millions of dollars.
Acciona Energy’s director of engineering, construction and operations Brett Wickham said he could see no reason why similar figures couldn’t be expected from the proposed south-west wind farms.
He said the Waubra operation was forecast to increase the Central Highland’s gross regional product (GRP) by $346 million (six per cent) over 10 years, while the Gunning wind farm could increase south- eastern New South Wales GRP by $69.3 million (0.8 per cent).
"These figures could easily be transferred to Mortlake and Gellibrand," Mr Wickham told The Standard.
"The Mortlake wind farm is slightly bigger than the Gunning site, so I can see no reason why it couldn’t increase the region’s GRP by $100 million.
"Gellibrand is nearly the same size as Waubra, so I would expect it to add a similar figure to the GRP of the area."
The report also forecasts the Waubra wind farm to increase Victoria’s gross state product (GSP) by $355 million and create an extra 1680 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs over 10 years, while Gunning is forecast to create 358 FTE jobs and increase that state’s GSP by $77.5 million.
Mr Wickham said the long-term FTE employment projections related not only to jobs created on the wind farm site, but to extra jobs that would be created in the community.
"It might be the local baker or corner store that needs to put on an extra person.
"We think for small communities these are very positive figures. We pride ourselves on being part of the community we operate in, and history shows that 86 per cent of the workforce we use when constructing the wind farm come from the local communities.
"We construct, own and operate the wind farms. We don’t over-promise and under-deliver because our guys will be there in 10 years running the operation."
He says the Mortlake wind energy project will create long-term local jobs. "These types of wind energy project employ people locally, in the order of 14 to 20 jobs on site once we are operational," he said. "They are real jobs that pay into … [the] community. They generate real economic benefit for the community."
Wind power in Australia
1997: 4 MW
1998: 9 MW (+125 %)
1999: 9 MW (- %)
2000: 30 MW (+233.4 %)
2001: 71 MW (+136.7 %)
2002: 103 MW (+45.1 %)
2003: 197 MW (+91.3 %)
2004: 379 MW (+92.4 %)
2005: 579 MW (+52.8 %)
2006: 817 MW (+41.2 %)
2007: 817 MW (- %)
2008: 1,494 MW (+82.9 %)
2009: 1,712 MW (+14.6 %)
2010: 2,020 MW (+18 %)
2011: 2,224 MW (+10.1 %)