PROPONENTS of Australia’s first offshore wind project say despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, planning for the Star of the South off offshore wind farm off the coast of Gippsland is continuing.
The project is assessing three potential transmission corridors, which would transport the electricity generated out at sea to land and into the grid to power homes.
The three corridors will be assessed against a range of measures, including engineering and technical studies, advice from specialists and feedback from landholders and local communities.
Each of the options identified would connect into the grid in the Latrobe Valley, and would involve underground cables and substations.
The Star of the South is expected to select a transmission corridor to continue progressing by the end of the year.
People who live and work in the area, or those with a broader interest in the project, can share their feedback on the project from today until Sunday, May 17.
Because of COVID-19, face-to-face community information sessions planned in April have been cancelled.
Instead, interested people are being encouraged to provide feedback online or get in touch with the project team to request a hard copy information pack or set up a teleconference meeting.
The project has also taken the next step by referring the Star of the South to the Victorian Planning Minister to consider an Environment Effects Statement and to the Federal Minister for Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
These referrals will help governments decide the best assessment and approvals pathways, including the formal opportunities for community and stakeholder consultation and feedback.
Star of the South chief development officer Erin Coldham said they wanted to hear about what was important to local communities as investigations continued.
“We’re kick-starting a formal planning process now so it’s a great opportunity to get involved and help shape the project,” she said.
Proponents say developing offshore wind in Gippsland would help to create local job opportunities, transition to new forms of power generation and secure the state’s energy supply.
“Gippsland has been the home of power generation in Victoria for many years,” Ms Coldham said.
“Offshore wind is an exciting new resource in the region which could create thousands of jobs in construction, and hundreds of ongoing local jobs during operation.”
“We want to acknowledge the challenging time we’re all in and let local communities know we’re still progressing this exciting project and taking the next step in planning for Australia’s first offshore wind project.”
The project began collecting scientific data out at sea late last year, with wind, wave and seabed studies to continue over several years to inform planning assessments and the project’s feasibility.
The proponents say the Star of the South would provide a reliable and consistent source of energy, powering up to 1.2 million homes and supplying about 18 per cent of Victoria’s electricity needs.