Businessman plans a $30m wind farm for the Granite Belt

"THE Granite Belt is famous for its fresh clean air and locally-produced wines, fruit and vegetables; let's add clean energy to the list of great things that Stanthorpe does well."

So reads the brochure accompanying Brisbane resident Tim Lucas' proposal for Rabbit Ridge Wind Farm - a project he says will eliminate the need for a third powerline from Warwick to Stanthorpe.

Mr Lucas' proposal would see up to eight wind turbines erected on his grazing property just north of Rabbit Fence Rd at Pozieres.

The application has been submitted to the Southern Downs Regional Council, with public notification starting this week.

The turbines would stand over 60m tall, but Mr Lucas said the rolling landscape would keep the structures relatively hidden from neighbouring properties.

"I don't think the visual impact will be that great," he said.

"Wind farms are usually on bare hills, but I call this a boutique farm amongst the timber."

Mr Lucas has invested in comprehensive research to gauge the viability of green energy on the Granite Belt.

For the past 18 months, he has been collecting data from a 60m-tall wind monitor tower at his property.

The results are in and Mr Lucas predicts the wind farm, together with solar power and diesel storage, would be able to supply all of Stanthorpe's power needs, using full green power 20% of the time.

Stanthorpe has long been vulnerable to power outages, with the town's main source of electricity an aging 110kV powerline.

He said the $30 million facility, to be funded by "private equity", would ease the strain on the existing power system.

"Security of supply can be delivered a lot sooner," Mr Lucas said. "Introducing embedded power (power produced locally) will take pressure off the transformers.

"Instead of having your power coming from out past Dalby, you can make it locally.

"It would also allow Ergon to do maintenance on the old 110kV line."

However, Ergon Energy's answer to Stanthorpe's power woes is to build a new 110kV line - a suggestion that has been met with public concern, prompting the formation of the Community Reference Group (CRG).

The CRG has spent 12 months considering various power supply options, including the Rabbit Ridge Wind Farm proposal.

The group has dismissed the proposal as an unviable alternative to a third powerline, set to reveal its preferred route for the line to public officials this afternoon.

However, Mr Lucas said plans for a third 110kV line had a long way to go before they came to fruition.



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