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Latest wind auction winner promises millions in benefits to Canberra economy

The fifth and final winner of the ACT government's large-scale wind reverse-auction will provide enough power for more than 48,000 Canberra homes.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Simon Corbell has announced Sapphire Wind Farm, 18 kilometres west of Glenn Innes in north-eastern New South Wales, as the latest successful proponent from the government's second wind auction, promising an estimated $100 million dollars in economic benefits to the ACT.

The wind farm is due for completion in April 2018.

Sapphire has been awarded a feed-in-tariff of $89.10 per MW/h for 100MW capacity. The company will spend $34 million on development of an ACT-based asset and operations management centre, relocating operations from Newcastle.

The project, to be developed by CWP Renewables, comes after December's announcement of Australia's lowest-known contract price for renewables from the Neoen Hornsdale project in South Australia, announced in December. The price was a $77 a megawatt hour with enough electricity for 56,000 Canberra homes.

"I am delighted to announce Sapphire Wind Farm as the second winning project in the ACT's second wind auction," Mr Corbell said.

"CWP has a strong track record developing projects, including in our region, which have enjoyed strong local community support.

"Today's announcement is about more than renewable energy generation, it is about powering new high-growth industries to diversify our economy and create the jobs of the future. As part of the successful bid the ACT government has secured tremendous local investment benefits, totalling $100 million over 20 years, which will benefit all Canberrans."

The total costs to consumers associated with all current and proposed large-scale renewable energy projects from the ACT government will peak at an average of $4.67 per household per week in 2020.

Mr Corbell said the firm would become the third wind developer and asset manager to base its operations in Canberra, with CWP Renewables will also invest $3 million in a zero carbon micro-grid to be developed at CIT Bruce.

The move is part of a $33 million investment in local micro-grid initiatives. An Asia-Pacific micro-grid export hub will also be established in the ACT.

"In a win for local companies, the developers will give preference to ACT based businesses when awarding contracts for the construction of the wind farm - worth at least $5 million," Mr Corbell said.

A spokesman for Mr Corbell said the consortium behind the bid included companies Continental Wind Partners and Wind Energy Holdings.

"By the time Sapphire starts producing energy in 2018, the ACT will be sourcing 80 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources and well on the way to achieving 90 per cent by 2020," Mr Corbell said.

In August last year, the government called for bids in its second wind auction to power up to 106,000 Canberra homes, seeking 200 megawatts in new capacity  to come online within three years.

It follows two previous auctions: in 2013, three solar farms won 20-year feed-in deals, delivering 40 megawatts capacity, and in a wind auction earlier this year three wind farms won similar deals, delivering 200 megawatts among  them.

CWP Renewables managing director Alex Hewitt said the auction result had allowed commencement of construction of what will be the largest wind farm in the NSW. 

Source: The Canberra Times


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