A NEW player in the south-west wind energy market is preparing to launch a major project near Penshurst.
Res Australia has confirmed its interest in building turbines on farmland near the small community, with executives to meet local residents in the next eight weeks.
The Department of Primary Industries website lists the farm as capable of generating up to 625 megawatts of electricity, allowing it to support more than 350,000 homes. It would dwarf an $800 million, 365-megawatt development to be built near Macarthur and create hundreds of jobs in a region embracing renewable energy opportunities.
Test towers have been installed on district properties to establish the strength and consistency of wind for power generation as further preparatory work continues.
Res Australia developer Simon Kerrison said the company hoped to progress its plans within nine months.
"We're still in the early stages; we're doing initial studies and surveys just to make sure the project is viable in the area," he said.
While unable to confirm the farm's likely output, Mr Kerrison said Res had deemed early results strong enough to warrant closer investigation.
A 625-megawatt wind farm would be among the largest in the world, joining massive operations in the US and Romania.
Advance Penshurst president Catherine Loria said she expected a strong turnout at any public consultations held for the project.
"I think there would certainly be part of the community that would be in favour of it," she said.
"If it can be seen that it had benefits for the community as far as creating jobs and some ongoing economic benefits, then certainly that would be a positive." Ms Loria said residents had expressed concerns about rising coal-fired power costs and were likely to welcome cleaner energy sources.
Calculations by The Standard have estimated the wind farm would provide $562,500 in annual rates revenue to Southern Grampians and Moyne shire councils.
The figure would rise with the consumer price index.
Mayor Marcus Rentsch said Penshurst's open grazing land would be well suited to the development.
“This is a long-term project and we would certainly see great benefits in an area which is fairly well off a populated area; that’s certainly got things going for it,” he said.
Some locals had expressed frustration that wind farm plans had not led to firm construction deals, Cr Rentsch said.
“Most people have seen applications and approvals but they haven’t seen any wind farms being built.
“Most of the reaction is that there’s a lot of talk but there’s very little action when it comes to seeing them in operation.”
A Department of Planning and Community Development spokeswoman said planning permit applications were yet to be received for the Penshurst site.