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MEDIA RELEASE

25 February 2011

SURVEY ASKS COULD THE NEW ENGLAND CREATE NSW'S 1 COMMUNITY WIND FARM?
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A survey has been launched to help answer the question whether there is sufficient support to build a community-owned wind farm in the New England. The survey can be completed online at: http://tinyurl.com/newenglandwindcommunitysurvey. The survey will give the opportunity for everyone to put forward their views on a New England community wind farm. said Adam Blakester, Coordinator of the New England Wind community wind farm initiative. The purpose of the survey is to assess the benefits, issues and level of support for a community wind farm. Community wind farms are fairly new to Australia, however there are hundreds of working examples overseas, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Hepburn Wind is Australia's first community wind farm, with two turbines producing all of the electricity used by Daylesford in Victoria. They are being closely followed by Denmark in Western Australia. There are a wide range of benefits from community owned wind farms, continued Blakester. Clean and sustainable energy is the obvious one, however just as important are the local leadership, business, jobs and financial returns for investment into other community priorities. The New England is a designated priority region for development of wind farms due to the high quality wind resource and good access to power lines. The NSW Government's New England Renewable Energy Precinct initiated funding, matched by local organisations and the NSW Office of Fair Trading, for this survey and a wider study into community-owned power. Electricity is a central part of our lives and currently over 90% of NSW electricity is produced from coal. New sources of electricity are required to meet the needs of rising population, increased usage and replacement of old power stations. More efficient use of electricity and installation of 'micro systems', like solar panels and small wind turbines, are also key. With just four to six wind turbines we could produce enough electricity for 10,000 people, or 20% of the homes in the New England Tablelands, said Blakester. This would require $25-30m invested and provide energy, financial and community returns for 25 years and more. There is a real opportunity and potential for the New England to build NSW's first community wind farm and build on the massive take up of solar power and small wind turbines that we have seen here in recent years. Numerous organisations have come together for this purpose: The Community Mutual Group, Sustainable Living Armidale, Farming the Sun, Starfish Enterprises, Embark, The University of New England, Environmental Defenders Office, Wilson & Co Lawyers, High Country Urban Biodiversity Project, Southern New England Landcare and Armidale District Chamber of Commerce. The Survey is designed for all interested community members, land holders considering hosting wind turbines, investors and business and residential electricity users. It can be completed online at http://tinyurl.com/newenglandwindcommunitysurvey or over the phone by contacting Adam Blakester on 02 6775 2501. Full details of the New England Wind community wind farm initiative can be found at www.starfishenterprises.net.

MEDIA CONTACT | ADAM BLAKESTER 02 6775 2501 | 0419 808 900 adam@starfishenterprises.org
New England Wind is a community enterprise of www.starfishenterprises.net