18 September 2012 — The Meridian Energy Australia wind farm near Ballarat, 115 kilometres north west of Melbourne, will harness enough energy to power the entire provincial city of nearly 100,000 people, but under the current state planning regime it will be a lonely addition to the renewable energy landscape.

The 131 megawatts wind farm, which Meridian took over in 2009, was approved under the previous state government in 2008. It would be unlikely to see the light of day after the current Baillieu Government virtually halted the wind power industry in response to a vocal anti wind farm campaign, some of whose leaders are linked to anti climate change agenda.

Construction of the $260 million project at Mt Mercer, about 30 kilometres south of Ballarat in Victoria, will start in December.

Meridian Australia chief executive Ben Burge said the wind farm “further leverages Meridian’s proven experience in designing and managing the construction of new wind farms in some of the toughest terrains on the planet”.

Construction will take about two years to complete and provide employment for 200 people. Upon completion, it will provide about 20 permanent jobs.

The wind farm will be connected to the Victorian Electricity Grid by a new powerline and greenfield terminal station near the town of Elaine. The connection will be built, owned and operated by Transmission Operations Australia.

Mr Burge said the national electricity market, combined with the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, which required about 20 per cent electricity generation to be from renewable sources by 2020, was enabling renewable energy to be delivered for all Australians on a low cost and efficient basis.

“Our job is to deliver efficient sources of renewable energy to the market and assist electricity retailers to meet the MRET liabilities, improve choice and price for Australian electricity consumers,” he said.

Meridian’s partners include REpower Systems SE, Downer EDI and Transmissions Operations Australia.

Mt Mercer will be Meridian’s third wind farm in Australia. It also owns and operates Mt Millar wind farm in South Australia and is partnering with AGL Energy to build the Macarthur wind farm in Western Victoria.