Wind on the grid at long last

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After years of planning and wind measurements, Australia at long last has a wind farm connected to its national grid. The 5 MW Crookwell wind station, located southwest of Sydney in New South Wales, was officially opened on August 26 by the state's energy minister, Bob Debus. Pacific Power, the project's builder, owner and operator, admits the completion is eight months late (Windpower Monthly, September 1997), but blames it on "unforeseen planning issues and other delays."

Eight Vestas 600 kW turbines comprise the station, sited on land which will continue to operate as a sheep farm. It is expected to generate enough electricity to supply about 3500 customers, according to Neville Marks of Pacific Power. Further details are scarce. Marks refuses to divulge information such as average wind speed at the site or the gigawatt hours expected to be generated, saying the information is commercially sensitive. Further, Marks will not reveal the price at which Pacific Power is selling the green electricity to retailer Great Southern Energy, although it is widely believed to be in the range of A$0.09-0.10/kWh. Southern will resell it to customers via its "Earthsaver" green power scheme.

Pacific Power is also developing a wind project of up to 10 MW at Blayney. (Windpower Monthly, July 1998). Feasibility studies are underway, but Marks will not comment on a time frame for the tendering process.

Pacific Power is, however, eager to say that Crookwell is a significant development and will lead the transition to a sustainable energy future. Earlier in the year the company announced it will begin funding forestry plantations in "Australia's first carbon sequestration trade." The trees are meant to absorb greenhouse gasses equal to the amount of those produced in Pacific Power's company operations.

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