Sapphire Wind Farm nears threshold for local stake-holding

The company behind Sapphire Wind Farm says it’s nearly got enough commitment from local people for a scheme for local investment to go ahead.

It said three weeks ago that people would need to commit $3 million to the wind farm being built between Glen Innes and Inverell for local investment to be allowed. It now says that $2.5 million has been pledged but that was after only a week of opening the offer.

“I’m very excited by the response that we have received from the community so far,” said Taryn Lane from Akin Consulting which is advising CWP, the company behind the wind farm. 

“The fact that $2.5 million has already been pledged, with just 150 surveys completed in the first week, is a strong indication of the level of interest.”

At the beginning of September, she made presentations about public participation at a series of public meetings in Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell, Moree and Tamworth. 

A return of five per cent was promised.  

“This is a very safe investment”, she said. “CWP says it could “operate much the same way as investing in a local bank.”

The company says that risks to local investors would be lessened because involvement would only be allowed after the riskiest phase, construction.

CWP is insisting that each person promise to put in at least $5,000.  No upper limit has been published. 

There would have to be at total of $3 million pledged before a “Public Investment Vehicle” could be set up. 

The company said local investors would have no control over the wind farm.

“Community co-investment is when a community investment vehicle buys rights to a portion of the earnings of the renewable energy project but has no decision-making power or control over the operation of the asset.”   

There would be the possibility of investment in further projects, perhaps in the solar park which is to be built next to the wind farm.

Sapphire Wind Farm is the biggest wind farm under construction in NSW.  It’s meant to start generating electricity at the end of the year and when it’s fully up and running next year, it would provide enough electricity to power 115,000 homes. 

Much of the output has already been bought by the Australian Capital Territory.  

There are schemes in Europe where local people have a substantial stake and at least one scheme in Australia which is run by a cooperative of local people, albeit with a tiny wind farm compared with Sapphire.