June 13, 2019
Coopers Gap Wind Farm is expected to begin producing its first electricity next month.
A Community Consultation Meeting held at Cooranga North Hall on Wednesday was told the first 15 turbines in the 123-turbine project were nearing completion and would soon undergo final testing.
If that goes well, the turbines will be switched on and begin generating the first power from the site in July.
The meeting was told the wind farm was still on track for completion next May or June as interruptions to deliveries of the components from the Port Of Brisbane had been smoothed out.
AGL spokesperson Sharyn Garrett said some residents had complained the deliveries had made them late for work.
She agreed the component convoys could be a problem and apologised for any inconvenience but said that now the deliveries were more regular, AGL had prepared schedules which gave dates and estimated times of when particular shipments were likely to arrive at Dalby and Bell.
These schedules showed “windows” that drivers could use to avoid the convoys.
People who wanted this information should contact her by email
The work of principal contractor Catcon at Coopers Gap is nearing an end and their partner General Electric (GE) has stepped into the lead role.
A GE spokesperson told the meeting Catcon’s work had involved all the civil engineering on the wind farm site.
This included building roads, laying concrete bases for the turbines, laying underground cables to connect the turbines to the PowerLink substation on Niagara Road and assembling the turbine components.
GE assumed authority for the final steps, such as making sure all the turbines were correctly connected to the substation, running tests and then switching the turbines on.
At present, there were three cranes on the Coopers Gap site assembling the wind turbines, but they will be dismantled once the final turbine is in place.
A viewing platform to view the wind farm is likely to be constructed at the junction of Bilboa and Niagara roads at Ironpot.
Representatives from the South Burnett and Western Downs Regional Councils have met to discuss the project, which would allow tourists to safely view and photograph the wind farm.
The meeting was told there is widespread community interest in the project, and it’s unlikely to diminish once the project is completed.
However, because the wind farm is built on private properties and roads passing it are narrow and have few places to safely pull over, a separate viewing platform built on Council-controlled land seems the safest way to cater for tourists.
Cr Ros Heit said she was aware the project had been discussed, but was not aware yet of what the outcomes were or when work on the platform might begin.
South Burnett Regional Council road crews will be returning to Niagara Road soon to continue work on upgrading the lower portion of the road towards the Jarail Road junction.
Road crews upgraded the section from the Bunya Highway to the wind farm’s construction site earlier this year to allow turbine components to be moved on site.
They left to attend to other projects while transports moved the components into place, and will now return to work on the balance of the project.
A resident suggested Council use the Niagara Road upgrade as an opportunity to realign a few sharp curves.
Council engineers will be invited to attend the next meeting on September 11 to give their views.
Local residents who see emergency services crews rush towards the wind farm later this month shouldn’t be alarmed.
AGL said it will be running a simulation exercise with local emergency services groups at the wind farm in late June.
The exercise will acquaint them with the site and help them prepare an appropriate response if a natural disaster such as a bushfire or flood occurs.
While AGL believe the chances of either are low, disaster preparedness is a community safeguard they wished to encourage.
People interested in a job at the wind farm after it comes into full operation next year will need to wait a little longer.
Coopers Gap is expected to generate between 20 to 25 full-time positions once construction ends, but position descriptions have not yet been drawn up.
They will be released towards the end of the construction phase – probably in the first quarter of next year – and it is likely that most of the positions will require electrical qualifications.
AGL has previously said it will preference candidates who live within easy driving distance of the wind farm, then progressively cast the net wider if an insufficient number of suitable applicants apply.
Successful applicants to the fourth round of the Coopers Gap Community Benefit Fund have been announced.
The fund received 16 applications requesting a total of $75,000 in funding, but only had $30,000 to distribute in the round.
AGL approved 12 of the applications.
Seven requests were fully funded, and the remainder partially funded.
The successful applicants were:
The Community Benefit Fund will distribute $30,000 a year from the Coopers Gap Wind Farm for the expected 25-year life of the project.
The money is being distributed to communities directly affected by the wind farm through two funding rounds per year.
During the wind farm’s construction, AGL has doubled annual funding to $60,000 to compensate for any inconvenience the work causes.