October 24, 2019
AGL’s Coopers Gap Wind Farm Community Fund, which supports local projects, will be increased to $100,000 a year in 2020, and will remain at that level as long as AGL are involved with the Cooper’s Gap project.
The announcement was made at the Coopers Gap Community Consultative Committee (CCC) meeting held at Cooranga North Hall on Thursday.
Former Western Downs Deputy Mayor and long-serving CCC member Mick Cosgrove OAM, said he had approached AGL’s CEO to increase the size of the Community Fund to bring it into line with similar funds run at the company’s other wind farms.
AGL had initially proposed the fund would distribute $30,000 a year, to be shared among the nearby communities of Kumbia, Bell and Jandowae.
But prior to the start of work in September 2017, the company announced it would double this to $60,000 a year during the wind farm’s construction phase to compensate locals for any disruptions the work might cause.
The community fund has since had five half-yearly rounds, and has already distributed more than $110,000 among the three communities.
But it was due to revert back to $30,000 a year from next July after construction ended.
At previous CCC meetings, Mr Cosgrove said he was dissatisfied with the size of the fund when compared with similar funds AGL operates at the company’s other wind farms, and had written to AGL’s senior executives to press his case.
At Thursday’s meeting, Mr Cosgrove read out a letter from AGL CEO Brett Redman which he received earlier this month.
Mr Redman wrote that AGL would increase the Community Fund to $100,000 a year; $80,000 of this would be distributed through the CCC’s fund, and the other $20,000 would be spent by AGL on projects in the wider region.
Mr Redman said the company had also spent $210,000 installing free solar power systems on all the wind farm’s neighbours; distributed $92,000 to the wider community; and donated $50,000 to the Queensland Music Festival for Opera at Jimbour.
AGL also supports Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) and the Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation (BIEDO).
Mr Redman said the increased commitment to the community fund was AGL’s decision, not the wind farm’s owner (the Powering Australian Renewables Fund), and it would remain in place for as long as AGL continued to be involved with the project as PARF’s asset manager.
After the meeting, Cr Ros Heit – who was attending as a representative of the South Burnett Regional Council along with Works Manager Kevin Searle – said she was “absolutely delighted” by Mr Cosgrove’s announcement.
Cr Heit said a meeting held in Kumbia earlier this week to begin drawing up a community plan for the town recognised some improvement projects would require external funding because they were beyond the Council’s resources.
The expansion of the community grants program meant some of these projects might now come about earlier than thought.