All new wind power developments should be subject to a more rigorous technical review before given the go ahead, regulators in South Australia (SA) say. Wind farms, they argue, bear the risk of higher energy prices and power network disruption. "From now on we'll be tougher on wind permits," warns Lou Owens, the state's essential services commissioner. "The concern is that wind power will increase pool and contract prices. It shouldn't just be swept under the carpet." Owens argues that with subsidies paid out under Australia's renewable energy legislation -- the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target -- spread across the entire Australian market, SA consumers are carrying the costs of wind energy for Queensland and New South Wales, where consumers consequently benefit from lower energy costs. The proposed technical review process could jeopardise several planned wind projects earmarked for the state, one of the windiest regions in Australia. Around 400 MW of wind capacity is already operating or under construction in SA, including Tarong Energy's 34 MW Starfish Hill wind farm, already online, International Power's 45 MW Canunda wind farm, due for completion soon, and Babcock & Brown's 80.5 MW Lake Bonney Stage 1. Other projects due for completion this year include Hydro Tasmania's 66 MW Cathedral Rocks, Meridian Energy's 100 MW Wattle Point and Tarong Energy's 70 MW Mt Millar wind farm. At least 450 MW more is planned for the state and a further 1500 MW is classed as "prospective."
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