Hydro Tasmania Seeks Residents’ Approval of $2B Wind Farm Project

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By Vittorio Hernandez | November 29, 2012 9:52 AM EST

Although Hydro Tasmania's proposed $2-billion 600-megawatt wind farm has the potential to become the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere, the company wants the approval of King Island residents before they begin construction.

The largest, so far, is the Waubra Wind Farm in Victoria, which has attracted negative attention since construction began, which is something that Hydro Tasmania wants to avoid.

The venture was found to be technically, economically and environmentally viable and was endorsed by the three major political parties in the Australian state. The wind farm will have 200 turbines on Bass Strait isle.

The winds that flow through King Island are known to be so strong that residents have called it the Roaring 40s, making the island the ideal location to build the wind farm.

But Hydro Tasmania Chair David Crean said he would rather seek first the green light from the 1,600 King Island residents through a three-month consultation period.

If approved, the project would generate 2,400 gigawatts of renewable energy for the national market sufficient to power 240,000 homes. Hydro Tasmania plans to sell the output to the Victorian electricity grid through an underwater cable across Bass Strait.

The project would add more than 5 per cent of the country's renewable energy target and cut carbon emissions by about 1.9 million tonnes annually, Hydro Tasmania estimates.

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings and the state Opposition supported the project because it would be the biggest single infrastructure project in the state's history and raise millions of dollars a year in extra revenue, plus require major upgrades to King Island's road and port infrastructure and create jobs locally.

During the two-year construction phase, about 500 jobs would be created and when the wind farm becomes operational, it would create 10 to 20 jobs.

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