THE first turbines at the $1 billion Macarthur wind farm started generating electricity on the weekend — 23 months after construction started.
When all 140 turbines are operational by early 2013 it will generate up to 420 megawatts, the equivalent of powering more than 220,000 average Victorian homes and abating more than 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually during its scheduled 25 years of operation.
More than 400 people including labourers, plant operators, haulage contractors and quarry operators were involved in construction and the farm will provide full-time operational employment for about 20 local residents.
AGL Energy Limited and joint venture partner Meridian Energy Limited announced the switch-on yesterday.
The turbines connect at 33 kilovolts to the Macarthur substation, where voltage is increased to 132kV and transmitted via overhead lines to the Tarrone substation, where the voltage is further increased to 500kV before connecting into the existing Heywood-Moorabool transmission line and the national electricity grid.
Project manager Jeff Trompf said: “We are excited to see the turbines start to turn at Macarthur and look forward to the wind farm becoming fully operational.”
“Wind farms bring significant economic growth and benefits to local communities and the broader region in general,” he said.
Mr Trompf said the project partners had invested more than $10 million into local infrastructure and contributed to community projects and groups, including health care and emergency services groups.
Key sections of the Macarthur-Hawkesdale Road between Macarthur and the wind farm site and Tarrone North Road from Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road to the Tarrone terminal station site had been upgraded and maintenance was ongoing, he said.
“Additional funding has also been provided directly to Moyne Shire Council and VicRoads to facilitate maintenance programs of their respective road assets,” he said.
The council and residents have long criticised the deterioration of local roads since the project started.
Last week the shire was told the project companies had underestimated truck movements for the approved traffic management plan and that road repairs were below standard.
The shire is investigating its legal options to press for further repairs.