Hepburn Wind is Australia’s first community-owned wind farm and has now been successfully operating for 10 years. Located at Leonard’s Hill, Victoria, 100 kms north-west of Melbourne, the 4.1 MW wind farm generates enough clean energy for over 2000 homes in the region. It is owned and operated by the Hepburn Community Wind Park Co-operative and is the first community-owned wind farm in Australia, providing a model for further community-owned renewable energy projects.
Hepburn Wind consists of two turbines known by the local community as Gale and Gusto, each with a capacity of 2.05 MW. The cooperative decided to cap the wind farm at two turbines, as that was the maximum export achievable on the distribution network, which also ensured it met the energy needs of the community and is financially viable.
The cooperative looked to a variety of sources for funding including $10 million raised in small investments from over 2,000 local and non-local retail investors, and the balance from state government grants and a bank loan from Bendigo Bank.
Prior to the commissioning of the wind farm, the region was largely dependent on electricity from the coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley. Since 2011 when the wind farm first began to produce power, it has averaged around 11,000 MWh of electricity each year. This has resulted in carbon abatement of around 12,200 tonnes of CO2 each year.
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