Hepburn Wind backed by $9.9m, 2000 investors

Winds of change: Hepburn Wind community manager Taryn Lane and Samso Energy Academy director Soren Hermansen. Picture: Jessica Black.
Winds of change: Hepburn Wind community manager Taryn Lane and Samso Energy Academy director Soren Hermansen. Picture: Jessica Black.

Hepburn Wind represents more than a third of Australia’s investment in community energy having raised almost $10 million, a snapshot of the sector has revealed.

The Leonard Hill windfarm has raised $9.9 million and has 2000 backers. The two-turbine windfarm is the first and largest community energy project in the country.

Collectively Australians have financed more than 30 wind and solar projects and raised almost $24 million.

Since its operation began five years ago the price per megawatt hour paid to Hepburn Wind has since more than doubled, from $63 to over $120.

“Hepburn Wind is far and away the biggest investment in community energy across Australia but we’re also excited to see that there has been increased investment in community solar projects across the country in more recent years,” Community Power Agency founder Nicky Ison said.

“What was two or three years ago was just small amounts of investment has really scaled quite rapidly.”

Western Australia’s Denmark Wind is the next richest project, having raised $6.1 million with 112 investors and two-turbines.

Community-owned energy company Enova comes in third with $4 million raised and 1100 backers.

Sydney Renewable Energy Power Company has raised $1.4 million and installed 2000 solar panels with 519 backers.

Hepburn Wind expects to deliver financial returns to its 2000 investors after June this year.

Hepburn Wind.

Hepburn Wind.

Last month the state government announced $900,000 to support three Community Power Hubs in Ballarat, Bendigo and the LaTrobe Valley. 

Ms Ison said there was another 90 community groups preparing their own projects.

“If we are to transition to an energy system which is affordable, reliable and climate safe we’re going to need a range of different approaches and we see community energy as an essential part of that ecosystem.

“The community power hub is a really good example of that though we’ve been campaigning around that, we think this is a good step in the right direction but we don’t think it’s yet enough.

“We’ve been campaigning to see 50 community power hubs established across the country with a  funding commitment of $144 million over four years.”

The hubs would offer legal and technical advice to local volunteer groups.