BALD Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd has committed upwards of $625,000 over the 25 years the facility is expected to be in operation to a new community fund.
The firm will make $25,000 available annually, usually up to $1000, to community organisations and projects in the Tarwin Lower, Venus Bay and Walkerville areas and a locally-based committee has been appointed to advise Bald Hills on the allocation of funds.
The committee includes former South Gippsland Shire Council Mayor, Cr Kieran Kennedy, who has welcomed the setting up of the fund.
“It’s wonderful news for the communities of Tarwin Lower, Venus Bay and Walkerville and the local community groups in their endeavours to provide services and complete small projects,” Cr Kennedy said.
“Some of the money could help to pay for small events and projects but might also be leveraged up by volunteer work and matching grants to enable much higher value projects to be completed,” he said.
Cr Kennedy said he was well aware of the angst in some quarters about the impact of the Bald Hills Wind Farm but also registered his support for renewable energy.
“The fact is that we will become more dependent on renewable energy in the future and it’s inevitable that more of these sorts of facilities will be established.
“Some people don’t like it being sited here but as long as the proper processes are adhered to, it’s something we are going to have to learn to live with,” he said.
“I drove down Walkerville Road the other day and frankly, didn’t really notice it.”
Applications now open
Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd announced the establishment of the fund last week also advised the region that “the Community Fund was now open for applications from not-for-profit organisations with projects benefiting the Tarwin Lower, Walkerville and Venus Bay districts”.
Bald Hills Wind Farm General Manager, Matthew Croome said the aim of the Community Fund was to support projects that have a positive impact on the community in which the Wind Farm operates, including local sporting groups, charities, community groups and other not-for-profit organisations.
“There is $25,000 available this year and each year that the Wind Farm is in operation, which is expected to be 25 years. So, we anticipate the Community Fund will inject $625,000 into the community in total,” Mr Croome said.
Mr Croome added that Bald Hills Wind Farm would not have the right to vote on which applications were successful and that it would be the sole responsibility of a group of community members, who have formed the Community Fund’s Judging Committee, to decide how the funds are used.
“We want the money to impact those who live, work and play in the region, and while Bald Hills Wind Farm is a part of the local community, it’s not best-placed to make this decision,” he said.
“Local residents and people with strong ties to the community will decide which projects will provide the greatest assistance to their neighbours and fellow community members,” Mr Croome said.
Chair of the Bald Hills Wind Farm Community Fund Jeremy Rich said he was excited about the opportunity to help local groups and projects to find funding for initiatives that may not otherwise eventuate.
“Sometimes even the smallest expense can be difficult for community groups to fund but the benefit to the community, if they can find the money, is huge. That’s why the committee is accepting grant applications for as little as $250. It might not sound like much, but for a local sporting team this pays for much-needed uniforms or equipment, for example.
“Of course, larger projects requiring more significant funding will also be considered. It’s all about the benefits the project will bring to people living in the Tarwin Lower, Venus Bay and Walkerville districts,” Mr Rich said.
Applications for funding will close on July 31, 2015 and local not-for –profit organisation can download applications forms from www.baldhillswindfarm.com.au
Members of Bald Hills Wind Farm Community Fund Judging Committee are General Manager of Bald Hills Wind Farm Matthew Croome (non-voting), South Gippsland Shire Council Cr Kieran Kennedy, Jeremy Rich (Chair), Mark Smith, Loretta Hambly, Dot Kennedy, Sharyne Munday, Douglas Don, Joan Liley, Alyson Skinner and David Liebelt.
Cheaper deal on rates
IT’S good news that Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mitsui & Co (market capitalisation $23.6 billion) is providing $25,000 annually in grants to local groups.
But they may be planning to save much more than that in shire rates.
Under the provisions of Section 94 of the Electricity Commission Act 2000, a producer of electricity can pay rates as calculated from the CIV (capital improved value) or they can apply to have rates based on a formula referred to in that legislation; whichever is the least.
According to the South Gippsland Shire, “the valuation of the Bald Hills Wind Farm is currently being determined and then requires approval by the Valuer General Victoria”.
“The Wind Farm is within its rights to apply to use the provisions of this State Legislation. This provision does not apply to the FSL (Fire Services Levy), which is based on CIV,” said the shire.
“The formula for calculation includes a base rate and a rate applied to the electricity generated. It is our understanding that most Wind farms in Victoria pay rates based on this formula.”
It will be interesting to note the difference between what the CIV rates would have been on a $300 million development and the discount under the Electricity Act.
Also of interest will be the final outcome of revenue from farm rates in the area – net gain or net loss.
It could put the $25,000 grant offer into perspective.