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Regional benefits as work starts on community-boosting wind power project

Regional benefits galore are in store for Corangamite & Golden Plains Shires, Geelong’s manufacturing and Ballarat education as construction begins at Victoria’s newest wind farm at Berrybank.

Mayors of both Corangamite and Golden Plains praised the project so far.

“It’s a good model… there are benefits to landowners and community as well,” stated Neil Trotter, Corangamite Shire's Mayor.

Owen Sharkey Mayor of Golden Plains highlighted the benefits to the local community noting: “On a grassroots level it’s fantastic to see people being engaged with that. It’s also seeing the benefits of that with money coming down into community groups and community assets. The wind farms themselves need credit...the journey has really brought the community along.”

Training centre for renewable jobs

Ballarat’s role as a training centre for industries of the future and Geelong’s manufacturing future took an important step forward with the official construction commencement of the Berrybank Wind Farm. The turbine hub assembly plant at the former Ford Factory will produce and assemble components for 43 Vestas wind turbines to be installed at Berrybank, creating advanced manufacturing jobs and traineeships. 

In Ballarat the development of Federation University’s Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre will be supported by Global Power Generation, the company building the 181 MW, 43 turbine Berrybank Wind Farm in between Cressy and Lismore, 60km south of Ballarat. The Centre began training wind turbine technicians at its Grant Street campus this year.

Jobs for regional Victoria

With the backing of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Auction Scheme, the Berrybank Wind Farm is expected to create 213 jobs in the region. Priority for much of the work will be given to businesses from the local area around Berrybank.

“Wind farms provide long term jobs today, in an industry that will only grow into the future,” stated Andrew Bray, Australian Wind Alliance’s National Coordinator.

“This manufacturing plant will see wind turbine assembly return to Victoria for the first time in a decade.”

“It’s a great opportunity to utilise Geelong’s long-standing manufacturing capabilities.”

“We are particularly pleased to see the project prioritise traineeships and apprenticeships to ensure that young people can get a start in this exciting industry,” concluded Andrew.

Community benefits

For communities closer to the project in the Corangamite and Golden Plains Shires, a range of programs are in place to help share the financial benefits more widely throughout the community. These programs include:

  • Annual Community Development Grants for the 25-year life of the project
  • A one-off grant of $3 million for community projects in the Corangamite and Golden Plains Shires
  • Community solar program to install solar PV or solar hot water on community buildings and local residential households

These programs are in addition to lease payments to farmers hosting turbines on their property and agreed payments to wind farm neighbours within a two-kilometre radius of the turbines.

“This impressive range of community schemes will see millions of dollars pumped into urgent local community projects that might otherwise be neglected.”

“We estimate there are now over 50 long-term wind farm community funds around the country, contributing over $2.5 million every year to vital local community work.”

“Local communities are working together with wind farm companies and local councils to determine what needs doing in the local area and getting the work done.” Concluded Andrew.

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