Victoria approves 330 MW wind project

AGL Energy Limited's proposed 330 MW Macarthur wind farm near Port Fairy in western Victoria is the latest wind project to win planning approval since the introduction of the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) in July for renewables to meet 10% of the state's power supply by 2016. The A$600 million, 183 turbine project is one of the largest yet in the country. "There are still a number of steps to be taken before AGL is in a position to make a final investment decision," says AGL's Paul Anthony. The Macarthur wind farm is the ninth to win approval in Victoria after planners received 1295 submissions from the public, of which 1148 were in favour. With approval in the bag, AGL has put plans for its 79.2 MW Dollar wind farm in South Gippsland, Victoria, on hold. "We have got a fair amount on our plate right now and, with Macarthur getting the development approval, it is a matter of having to decide what our priorities are," says the company's Jane Counsel. "This is not, by any means, a final decision. We are just putting the planning process on hold because of a number of more pressing priorities." The state's premier, Labour's Steve Bracks, has been busy making political mileage from the project, saying that if the opposition party came to power in Victoria's state elections on November 25 the VRET may be scrapped, putting an end to the wind market. Former Liberal leader Denis Napthine, a supporter of the project, says this is unlikely however. "I think it's a big enough project, a project that can contribute significant electricity," he says.

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