Hepburn Wind has fulfilled its promise of building Australia’s first community owned renewable energy project, after a weekend of celebration and turbine construction at Leonards Hill, 10 km south of Daylesford.
Saturday’s brilliant weather was the backdrop to a true celebration of community achievement. Around 300 people of all ages including lots of excited children gathered to watch the turbine being raised. The day included local musicians, an SES sausage sizzle, children’s entertainment and the constant clicking of cameras.
The second Wind Turbine
The second turbine will be raised in the coming days and both will be visible around the shire with a total height of just under 110 metres.
This event marks the most spectacular phase of construction for the co-operatively owned wind farm. It’s a monumental achievement for a community had a vision to build a wind farm for the benefit of the local area. To build the $13m project, the wind farm’s 1600 co-operative’s members have collectively invested more than $8.7m, a clear indication of enormous local support for renewable energy.
The project was born out of frustration with the pace of action on climate change — the community’s project is expected to generate more energy than is used by Daylesford in an average year, and will displace an estimated 12,200 tonnes of CO annually.
Future Sustainability Initiatives
Hepburn Wind was conceived in 2005 and launched its membership and share offer in July 2008. Members will share in the proceeds of the sale of electricity and a portion of profits will be returned via a community sustainability fund. Through the fund, Hepburn Wind plans to provide more than $1m for sustainability initiatives in the local community over the next 25 years. Built from the start with the community in mind, the locally controlled wind farm is the first in the country to allocate more to the community than to the landowner of the wind farm.
Hepburn Wind has inspired more than 40 communities around Australia to begin planning their own solar, wind and mini-hydro initiatives. Community owned projects will play a vital role in driving the inevitable move to a low-carbon economy.
I live in Daylesford and of course I invested in the wind farm. It’s surreal looking at this crane high up in the skyline lifting huge pieces of tower into place, I’m overjoyed! Who wouldn’t be when you’ve got a visionary, practical, ethical, safe, community owned project to invest in, right on our doorsteps.
What’s great is that locals who are low income earners can even be part owners for as little as $100, and they have the same vote as everybody else — that’s inclusiveness and democracy at its best. I don’t have much money but I invested all I could in it.
Dallas Kinnear, local member, Hepburn Wind
Prior to Hepburn Wind I had never bought shares in anything. The shares give me a sense of enormous pride in my community and demonstrate the power of individuals and collective passion to achieve change. That, surely, is the best legacy to pass on to our children.”
Kirsten Wilken, Member, Hepburn Wind
I invested in Hepburn Wind because it’s such a unique and progressive community project. I
can’t wait to see our turbines spinning!”
Belinda Martin, Member, Hepburn Wind
I love the idea of the community owning our own energy resource. I also love that the project is
environmentally, socially and financially sustainable.”
Kate Allsopp, Member, Hepburn Wind
Our project is not just about building two wind turbines. It is about empowering local people to
become engaged and active participants in responding to the challenge of climate change.
Today’s construction is the culmination of six years of hard work and commitment by our
board, members and supporters who have never wavered in their desire to make this day
We have created three local jobs, purchased more than $3m of goods and services from
regional Victoria and we will soon be generating enough clean energy for 2300 homes for the
equivalent of less than $6000 per household.”
Communities are showing that they can take the lead — we don’t have to wait for government
or the big end of town to act on climate change.”
Simon Holmes à Court, Chairman, Hepburn Wind.