Bungendore's $30 million windfall

THE proposed expansion of the Capital Wind Farm on the outskirts of Bungendore could pump as much as $30 million into the local economy.

That's according to the farm's operator Infigen Energy which is eyeing the construction of up to 41 additional 80m tall wind turbines at the Lake George site.

Infigen Energy's general manager of development David Griffin confirmed earlier this week that the company will almost certainly bid in the ACT government's upcoming 200-megawatt 'wind auction'.

The auction would guarantee wind farm developers in the region an ongoing customer for their product at a set price in the form of the ACT Government.

"It is very difficult to build [wind farms] without having a long-term power purchase agreement in place which is what the ACT process offers," Mr Griffin said.

"We have built wind farms in the past without those contracts but in the current environment, it would be basically impossible to do so.

"We obviously haven't seen any of the details of the ACT Government's [auction process] but assuming there are no surprises, we'll definitely be bidding for Capital Wind Farm."

Infigen Energy received development approval from the NSW Government to construct the additional towers back in 2011.

But continuing uncertainty over the Federal Government's renewable energy target and the Carbon Tax have seen developers holding off on investing in new wind projects.

The fate of those Federal Government policies will have a direct impact on the financial competitiveness of wind produced power.

"More broadly, the uncertainty over the [renewable energy target] does make it more difficult to get any projects underway," Mr Griffin said. "That's the advantage of the ACT process.

"In effect, it removes that uncertainty by providing the guaranteed 200-megawatts of energy that they're offering."

Adding another 41 turbines would increase Capital Wind Farm's power output by up to 100-megawatts.

Mr Griffin however, was quick to stress that the number of any new turbines constructed would be based on the upcoming bidding process and was far from finalised.

The ACT Government's wind auction has stoked considerable debate in recent days. A band of rural NSW MPs, including member for Monaro John Barilaro, has attacked the plan as turning regional NSW into "the ACT's junkyard".

The construction of the massive turbines, paid for by the ACT but located in regional NSW, has proved a divisive issue among many of affected rural communities

Mr Barilaro has been particularly vociferous in his campaign against the development of new sites, such as the proposed $400 million wind farm near Tarago, within his electorate.

He also reiterated his personal opposition to the current state of the wind turbine industry in Australia as being overly reliant on subsidies and government handouts.

But he acknowledged that the proposal to extend the already operating Capital Wind Farm was an option worth consideration.

"The ACT Government is talking about 200-megawatts coming out of this [auction]," he said. "As I understand it, the current wind farms in the system could easily meet that target.

"Now, people come to me every day to tell me that [Capital Wind Farm] is a blight on the landscape. But the fact is, it's there, it's operating and there may be an opportunity to further develop wind farms already in action.

"But what I would not be supportive of is the development of future projects, such as the proposal at Tarago, that are only going to divide communities."

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