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CENREC

A New Model for Community Renewable Energy Projects

The proposed Central NSW Renewable Energy Co-operative Ltd (CENREC) is an Australian first for community participation in large scale renewable energy projects. The concept is simple: a local community co-operative will be established to raise funds and purchase a wind turbine in a commercial wind farm development project.
CENREC was established with the assistance of Infigen Energy and Mattila Lawyers.

The official formation meeting will take place at 11.30am on 17 October 2012 at The Flannery Centre (341 Havannah St, Bathurst). All FIRST FOUNDING MEMBERS will be present and become financial members on the day. Read more here.

 

 Project

Once established, CENREC proposes to purchase a wind turbine in Infigen Energy’s proposed Flyers Creek Wind Farm project. For Infigen Energy, this offers the opportunity to engage with a vibrant local community in the context of renewable energy and to work together towards the establishment of a valuable community infrastructure investment.

The first Directors of CENREC were nominated in June 2012, with Pat Bradbery as the first Chairman of CENREC. CENREC has since lodged its draft Co-operative Rules and draft Disclosure Statement with the NSW Registry of Co-operatives. It is anticipated that the formation meeting of CENREC will take place in the near future.

Once established, CENREC intends to enter into a number of agreements with Infigen Energy’s subsidiary, Flyers Creek Wind Farm Pty Ltd, to:

  • purchase the wind turbine
  • licence the wind turbine site
  • enter into a range of contracts including construction and maintenance connection to the grid, power purchase agreements and so on.

The CNREC Directors intend that CENREC wind turbine will generate renewable energy and earn revenue by selling electricity and Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs). What are LGCs?

While investment in the Flyers Creek Wind Farm project is anticipated to be CENREC’s first project, CENREC may over time invest in medium to large scale solar projects and other renewable energy projects.

 

 The Co-operative Model

CENREC received advice on a suitable corporate structure from Mattila Lawyers. The most appropriate corporate structure for a community renewable energy project will depend on the particular project and requirements of the intended members for that project. The key features to consider in assessing the legal suitability of an ownership structure are:

  • Is it incorporated to ensure the limited liability of its members?
  • Does it have flexibility to allow incoming and outgoing members?
  • Does it have established corporate governance procedures and oversight by an established regulator (e.g. ASIC or the NSW Registry of Co-operatives)?
  • Does it have the ability to distribute income to its members or on the direction of members?
  • Does it have a clearly defined structural aptitude to meet the financial requirements of the proposed asset over the lifetime of that asset?
  • Does it have clearly defined (tried and tested) taxation position with the ATO?
The CENREC model meets all these requirements.

 

Economics

The cost of the wind turbine and infrastructure will depend on the model selected for the Flyers Creek project. As an indication, one wind turbine and related infrastructure could cost in the order of $5 to $6 million.

Revenue from a wind turbine is earned from two sources:

  1. Sale of electricity into the National Electricity Market
  2. Sale of Large Scale Renewable Energy Certificates (LRECs)

The co-op will receive the same electricity and LREC price as the rest of the Flyers Creek project. Economies of scale are gained from Infigen maintaining more than 40 wind turbines.

 

Flyers Creek Wind Farm Proposal

The proposed Flyers Creek Wind Farm comprises 44 Wind Turbine Generators (WTGs) along with a substation, switchyard, cabling, access tracks and other associated infrastructure.

Depending on the model of the WTG, electrical capacity is likely to be between 2.5 and 3.3 megawatts (MW*), and project capacity will be between 110 – 145 MW.

Flyers Creek Wind Farm would result in over 340,000 MWh of annual electricity generation, which is sufficient to power over 45,000 typical NSW homes. This will help to avoid the abatement of over 300,000 tonnes of CO2 each year (equivalent to taking 70,000 cars off the road).

The Flyers Creek wind turbines will be about twice as large as the Blayney Wind Farm turbines, however, they will produce about 5 times more electricity.

 

First public meetings meetings

Public meetings were held on 13 October 2011 in Orange and 14 October 2011 in Bathurst to commence the process for including a community owned wind turbine as part of its proposed Flyers Creek Wind Farm.

The meetings were chaired by Ms Nicky Ison who has visited and researched more than 30 community renewable energy projects and organisations around the world. A presentation was given by Ms Jenni Mattila, Principal of Mattila Lawyers who has extensive experience with community owned infrastructure co-operatives, including Australia’s first community-owned wind farm.

Core group of interested parties from both meetings have offered to form a committee to facilitate the development of the proposed co-operative. If you would like to register your interest to become a member of the CENREC, please provide your details in the registration form.

 

Location

Flyers Creek is located between Blayney, Manildra, Mandurama and Orange.

View Larger Map

 

Project update

Flyers Creek project was started by the local community when farmers approached Infigen Energy. In 2008,  Infigen held meetings with the Council and other stakeholders, and erected three wind masts.

By 2010 environmental studies had been progressed and preliminary layout generated with information from community information days.

The Environmental Assessment was on public display from in December 2011.

 

What’s next?

  • Determination of development application
  • Contracts:
    • turbine supply & construction
    • connection
    • offtake
  • Infigen final investment decision

 

Contact

Jess Jennings CENREC Secretary
To contact Jess, please email J.Jennings[at]uws.edu.au

Pat Bradbery is the CENREC Chairperson
To contact Pat, please email PBradbery[at]csu.edu.au

 * MW is a Megawatt, or Million watts of electricity, (equivalent to 25,000 x 40 Watt light bulbs)