The Ararat Wind Farm Pty Ltd, which is co-owned by a consortium of RES, GE, Partners Group on behalf of its clients, and OPTrust today announced it has secured a $200 million debt financing package along with an additional $76 million in bank guarantees, through a financing consortium comprising Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), Canada’s Export Credit Agency – Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
The 240MW Ararat Wind Farm in south-west Victoria will be the third largest wind farm in Australia and has attracted almost half a billion dollars of direct international investment into Victoria.
The Ararat Wind Farm was the first major wind farm contract to be signed following restored bipartisan support for the Renewable Energy Target (RET) in June. Today’s announcement signals the increased confidence in investment into Australia’s renewable energy sector.
The project also benefits from a power purchase agreement with the Australian Capital Territory Government (ACT), guaranteeing the purchase of approximately 40 per cent of the energy produced at the site, which was awarded under the ACT’s Wind Auction announcement in February 2015.
Debt support from Export Development Canada and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation was an important part of the debt financing package. Agencies such as EDC and CEFC are playing a significant role in assisting the private sector invest in clean energy developments such as the Ararat Wind Farm.
Led by GE and Downer, construction of the Ararat Wind Farm started in August 2015 and is progressing to schedule, with the first power expected to be delivered to the grid in September 2016. Construction on the project will be completed by April 2017.
The Ararat Wind Farm will have significant positive local impacts. It will employ around 165 workers directly in the construction phase, another 120 indirectly, and is expected to inject at least $7 million - $8 million into the local economy around Ararat over two years. The project will also establish a local community fund which will inject over $2 million in support of the Ararat and surrounding community over the lifetime of the wind farm.
To date the Ararat Wind Farm has awarded almost $10 million in contracts to local and Victorian-based businesses for plant, supplies and construction contracts. Recent announcements have included $3 million in civil and construction supply contracts for firms in Ballarat and Horsham, a $4 million contract let in October with Victorian-based Wilson Transformer Company to supply two power transformers for the electrical substation and the announcement in August of an order for 35 of the turbine towers to be manufactured at Keppel Prince in Portland, Victoria.
The Ararat Wind Farm will produce enough electricity to power around 120,000 homes per annum or approximately six per cent of Victoria’s households.