May 31, 2022
The Coopers Gap Wind Farm – which began generating its first power in June 2019 – is expected to be fully operational by August or September this year.
The project’s official opening has been delayed by the need to replace defective parts in a small number of the wind farm’s 123 turbines.
The announcement was made at the most recent meeting of the Coopers Gap Community Consultative Committee (CCC), which was held at Cooranga North Hall on May 24.
The CCC, which now meets bi-annually rather than quarterly, welcomed former South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell as its new chairman.
It also welcomed Carol Weekes from the Bunya Mountains Community Association as its new secretary.
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The meeting was told that now the wind farm is nearing final completion, AGL estimates the project cost $850 million to build – or almost $7 million per turbine.
AGL sold the wind farm to Tilt Renewables in August 2017 for $22 million with a bundled power purchase agreement that will give AGL an offtake price of less than $60/MWh for an initial five years, along with the option of a five-year extension at the same or a lower price.
AGL said it expects to recognise no profit from the transaction, which Tilt Renewables are funding through a consortium of banks.
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The meeting also heard the CCC’s Community Fund, which has been providing grants to communities surrounding the wind farm since 2017, has expanded to $100,000 per year.
In the 10th round of its twice-yearly grant programs, it will distribute $47,116 to six community groups who applied to it.
Those groups are:
- Ironpot Farmers Hall Association – $8305 to re-roof a compromised part of the hall’s roof
- Cooranga North Memorial Hall Committee Inc – $3999 to purchase a ride-on mower for the upkeep of the Hall’s grounds
- Bell Bunya Community Centre Assoc Inc – $2102 to purchase a massage chair for the Therapy Room area
- Kumbia and District School of Arts Inc – $2500 for the 2022 Kumbia Antiques Roadshow
- Cooranga North Rural Fire Brigade – $25,000 to extend the existing Cooranga North fire shed
- Bell State School – $5209 to lay a concrete footpath
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In other good news, residents near the wind farm will get better mobile phone reception in future when Telstra erects a new mobile tower at Coopers Gap.
The long-anticipated tower will provide vital communication facilities for the wind farm’s day-to-day operations.
However, most residents in surrounding areas will also benefit.
The tower site has now been secured but construction has been delayed due to a restructure within Telstra and logistics problems caused by the COVID pandemic.
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Plans to create a viewing and turnaround area for the wind farm were also discussed, as well as the difficulties the lack of this facility were now creating for residents.
The meeting was told a steady stream of tourists were now driving on nearby roads to view the wind farm.
However, the lack of a dedicated viewing area meant some of them were parking on the roads, which posed a hazard for local residents and could lead to accidents if it was not addressed.
The meeting was also told the route to such a viewing area needed to be clearly sign-posted – a job for the South Burnett and Western Downs councils – but AGL would provide interpretive signage explaining the wind farm project once the turnaround area was established.
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The CCC’s next meeting is expected to be held in November.
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