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Project tracking well

Friday, 23rd March, 2018

Attendees of the latest community meeting for the Silverton Windfarm Project were told last night that the project is well underway Attendees of the latest community meeting for the Silverton Windfarm Project were told last night that the project is well underway

By Kara de Groot

Attendees of the latest community meeting for the Silverton Windfarm Project were told last night that the project is well underway.

Seven of the 58 planned wind turbines are now in place, with an eighth underway. 

On top of this, 13 of the base components for the towers have been placed.

TransGrid, who were in charge of the electrical component of the project, and were most visible when they had a helicopter stringing the powerlines from the Broken Hill substation to the windfarm, completed the last of their work on February 23. 

The TransGrid director said it had been a challenging job, but a great effort by a lot of people.

His comments were echoed by AGL windfarm project manager, Adam Mackett, who said the support and skills provided by the local community has made a big difference to the project.

“The support from the community has helped guide where we focus our attention in terms of community projects, and the skills of the people here has had a huge impact on how we work, it’s enabled us to deliver outcomes in a relatively tight timeframe,” he said.

Civil engineering and construction company CATCON are in charge of assembling the wind turbines, and are in the process of sourcing a second main crane to get the work done faster.

There are still approximately 150 workers on site, with a continuing 40 per cent local employment rate.

Mr Mackett said there will be 10 fulltime jobs at the site once the windfarm has been commissioned.

“What we find is the lead technician is someone who’s had experience on other windfarms, so unless someone local has that experience, typically the lead comes from a different state, and they settle in Broken Hill with family and sometimes children,” Mr Mackett said. 

“They won’t be A Graders, but they will make a life here.

“The other technician roles are typically filled by people with mechanical and electrical knowledge, and we have some of those people working on the job at the moment, so that will depend on how they perform during commissioning and how eager they are to stay on, but they will all be locally based and we expect a high proportion of them to be locals already.”

More details on how the turbines will work was also shared at the meeting, including wind requirements for power generation. 

While they might turn, or ‘freewheel’ according to Mr Mackett, the turbines won’t start generating power until wind speed is a minimum of 3 metres per second, or a little over 10km per hour. 

It begins generating ‘rated power’ at about 43km/h, with power generation cutting off when winds reach 90km/h.

AGL also announced that applications for the Silverton Community Fund will open next month, and close in May. The Fund will see AGL grant $15,000 plus CPI to projects benefiting the Silverton Community for the life of the project, and Mr Mackett said guidelines for project submissions can be found on the AGL website.

“We’re guided by where the community wants the money, so if there’s big projects where the community needs some money to get it off the ground, we can help with that and help provide the money for those projects,” Mr Mackett said.

“We want to hear from the community, we’ll be running ads to get the word out to people so they can start thinking about submissions.

“It’s not for something to benefit an individual or a business, we want to benefit the whole Silverton community.”

The next community meeting for the windfarm project is expected to be held in the afternoon in the last week of May, with the exact date to be confirmed.

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