The 420 MW Macarthur Wind Farm can generate enough clean, green energy to power the equivalent of approximately 181,000 average Australian homes.
Generating electricity from Macarthur Wind Farm displaces electricity that may otherwise need to be sourced from the grid at a higher emissions intensity.
Macarthur Wind Farm sits about 16 km east of Macarthur, between Hamilton and Warnambool in south western Victoria.
Spanning about 5,500 hectares of freehold agricultural land, it crosses three properties that are predominately used for sheep and cattle grazing.
The AGL Online Community Engagement Forum is a place to ask questions, provide feedback, or discuss anything about AGL’s operational sites and the communities in which we operate.
AGL engaged Leighton Contractors and Vestas to construct Macarthur Wind Farm. It took about 2.5 years to build, and has been fully operational since late January 2013.
Vestas continues to play an important role in ongoing operations. As the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines, Vestas brings state-of-the-art technology, quality and reliability to the project – ensuring its long-term success.
During development and construction, the total number of jobs (including flow-on employment) was estimated at 875 from the region, 2,490 from Victoria and 2,782 from the rest of Australia. A permanent site team – responsible for ongoing maintenance and operations – includes 18 local residents from south west Victoria.
See the AGL Macarthur Wind Farm Bushfire Mitigation Plan 2020-2021
In October 2019, AGL welcomed the sale of a 50% interest in the 420 MW Macarthur Wind Farm joint venture to AMP Capital.
AGL continues to operate and maintain the wind farm on behalf of Morrison & Co and Malakoff and AMP Capital, and retains the rights to all Renewable Energy Certificates and electricity output until 2038.
AGL understands that we don’t always get it right, and we want to be informed when we don’t. If you would like to provide any feedback, good or bad, or simply ask some questions, please feel free to get in touch via the following channels:
AGL Community Complaints and Enquiries Hotline: 1800 039 600
Mail: AGL Community Complaints & Enquiries, Locked Bag 14120 MCMC, Melbourne VIC 8001
Learn more about how we handle your general customer complaints on our complaints page.
AGL likes to get involved in the local communities that we have a presence in. We always strive to understand community members' concerns and respond where appropriate.
The Macarthur Wind Farm Community Engagement Committee (CEC) is a great example of this. Administered by Moyne Shire Council, it is comprised of the Mayor, two Councillors, and up to four community members, along with AGL representatives.
Its purpose is to:
- Provide advice on strategies to ensure the effective flow of information to and from the community
- Act as a conduit for information flow between Council, the project proponent and the community
- Assist in the resolution of issues that may arise during the operational phase of the Macarthur Wind Farm.
The CEC charter can be found here. The most recent CEC meeting was held on-site in August 2017, where the focus was on permit conditions and community updates. For further information, contact Moyne Shire Council.
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The AGL Macarthur Wind Farm Community Fund is designed to reinvest a portion of revenue earned from the site into nearby communities by way of financial support for community-based initiatives, projects, and events.
The AGL Macarthur Community Fund Program is available to community groups within the Macarthur-Hawkesdale region.
The Community Fund aims to:
- Deliver community-wide benefits from the project.
- Support the work of existing and future community organisations.
- Encourage local community innovation and support for issues of community significance.
- Promote local awareness and education on the benefits of renewable energy.
- Develop strong relationships with the local and wider communities.
When did AGL find out about the fires on Saturday 17 March and how was it monitored from there on?
AGL personnel in our Melbourne office monitoring the AGL wind farms became aware of fires in the area at 20:52 and began monitoring the fire from that time. During the night this was escalated up the line as further information came to hand.
AGL’s Emergency Response team monitored the situation closely from our Incident Control Centre at our Loy Yang Power Station and our Dispatch Centre at our Head Office in Melbourne.
The Emergency Response Manager attended AGL's Incident Control Centre at our Loy Yang Power Station and engaged with emergency services personnel from there. The Gas and Renewables Manager notified the Wind and Solar Manager, who attended the Dispatch Centre at AGL's Bourke Street office and was in contact with local Vestas staff. This group remained in touch throughout the night and reconvened at 7 am and again at midday on Sunday.
AGL was in contact with emergency services and Vestas staff throughout the event.
In an emergency response scenario, AGL have the following protection priorities:
- People (protect the health, safety and wellbeing of those involved (e.g. staff, contractors, landholders, neighbours and the community)
- Environment (protect, preserve and restore the environment)
- Assets (protect and repair property)
- Reputation (provide key stakeholders with timely, consistent and accurate information)
- Liability (facilitate a prompt return to business as usual with minimal losses following the event)
What were the conditions on the evening of Saturday 17 March and early morning of Sunday 18 March during the fire?
AGL monitored the wind continually throughout the night. Macarthur Wind Farm was generating winds at about 17.2m/s (62 km/hr) until about midnight. The wind then reduced to about 9.4m/s (34 km/hr) before stabilising at about 12m/s (43m/s).
Why did Macarthur Wind Farm continue to operate during this time?
Many locals in the area were relying on electrical power to monitor and fight the fire, so while it may seem that shutting down the windfarm would improve the situation for the local communities, this could then threaten the power network, which could have made the situation worse. These are just some of the challenges assessed and acted on throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning.
It is also important to understand that wind turbines are not fans. They take energy from the wind, so actually decelerate the wind as it passes through the farm, as opposed to fanning it. In a bushfire or grassfire, the fire creates its own wind and draft stream, which may account for the wind speeds described by the neighbour in your email. This happens irrespective of whether there is a wind farm operating in the area.
Why did other local wind farms stop operating?
Yumbuk, Codrington and Oaklands Hill wind farms are all part of the network connected to the Terang substation that was impacted by the Terang fire. When this substation tripped, it tripped these wind farms. Macarthur, being on a different network and connected to the substation at Tarrone which was not impacted by the fire, was not impacted in a similar manner.
How was the decision made to shut down Macarthur Wind Farm the following Thursday?
Victoria Police, acting in collaboration with the Penshurst CFA, contacted AGL to request the turbines be shut down to allow for aerial water bombing. AGL received a phone call from Victoria Police at 1.20 pm and was fully shut down by 1.30 pm. So, the Macarthur Wind Farm shut down within 10 minutes of being instructed by Victoria Police to do so.
The wind farm did not become operational again until all parties agreed it was safe to do so.
AGL was pleased to host seven out of nine Moyne Shire Councillors at Macarthur Wind Farm recently. The Councillors undertook a tour of the site and workshop including a tour of the Vestas turbine simulator. AGL's David Spree, Senior Manager, Government and Community, Victoria, was on hand to hold a Q&A with Councillors, and followed up a few weeks later by providing Councillors with an overview of energy policy, both state and federal.
AGL has hosted several tours recently, including the Sunnyside Aged Care Facility, the Macarthur and District Association, the David Newman Centre, and Year 10 students from the Heywood and District Secondary College.
A men’s group from Sunnyside House – an aged care facility in Camperdown – recently toured the wind farm site. The group of men aged between 78 and 98 toured the southern edge of the site and got up close and personal with one of the turbines. They saw and heard first-hand how quickly they stop (and restart).
Michael, the group's driver, said the group really appreciated the effort AGL and Vestas had put in to showing them around. “The visit was originally suggested by Brian, one of the residents, whose son will soon be starting work at a Victorian wind farm. They’ve all had a great time, asking questions and trying to guess things like the height of the turbine and length of the blades,” he said.
The group closed the tour by acknowledging the birthday of Pauline, the carer on duty, with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, then headed on to Warrnambool for lunch.
AGL Energy was proud to be the major sponsor of Music in the Vines in 2017. Now in its second year, the festival was a huge success, with the crowd enjoying performances from a variety of local and national acts, and a great selection of local food and wine. Congratulations to the Music in the Vines committee for organising such a great event and, in particular, to Pieter and Michelle Badenhorst for being such wonderful hosts!
This year, Macarthur Wind Farm hosted a free bike ride on the morning of the festival as part of the 'Big Day Out Macarthur'. Taking in approximately 10 km of established road, the track through the wind farm is great for riders of all experience levels. As an added bonus, all riders received discounted entry to the festival.
AGL is looking forward to being part of Music in the Vines and the Macarthur Big Day Out in 2018 – keep an eye out for more updates.
We have conducted over 40,000 hours of noise monitoring at Macarthur Wind Farm. This is well beyond the amount required in the planning permit. The results of this extensive monitoring – conducted at 13 neighbouring dwellings – show that the wind farm complies with the acoustic requirements of the planning permit.
Fully-accredited noise acousticians carry out the monitoring in accordance with relevant standards. For complete transparency, all relevant raw noise data is given to landowners for their records.
The Government's strict noise regulations for Macarthur Wind Farm are in line with the World Health Organisation's guidelines for noise limits. As the below reports demonstrate, compliance has been achieved:
- Background Noise Assessment Report
- 2013 Noise Compliance Assessment Report – Round 1
- 2014 Noise Compliance Assessment Report – Round 2
For more information see:
An independent report by Resonate Acoustics shows there was no measurable change to infrasound levels once Macarthur Wind Farm was operational. The report – which was voluntarily commissioned by AGL to help alleviate community concern about noise – was reviewed by internationally renowned low frequency acoustic expert, Dr Geoff Leventhall.
The aim of the assessment was to compare infrasound (noise at frequencies lower than 20 Hz) and low frequency noise (noise from frequencies of 10 Hz to 160 Hz) levels before and after construction. Measures were taken indoors at two residences, located 2.7 km and 1.8 km from the nearest turbine, during the following stages:
- Pre-operational – no wind turbine generators operating
- Interim – approximately 105 out of 140 operating
- Operational – all 140 operating.
The assessment shows that infrasound and low frequency noise levels from Macarthur Wind Farm are compliant with relevant assessment criteria at the two nearby residences.
For more information see:
Macarthur Wind Farm is successfully operating within the strict noise limits set in the wind farm's State Planning Permit, as evidenced in the Macarthur Wind Farm Noise Compliance Assessment independently produced by AECOM Australia Pty Ltd (AECOM). This Noise Compliance Assessment is part of a wider noise monitoring program implemented by AGL since the first turbines started operating in late September 2012.
Noise data used in the analysis of the Noise Compliance Assessment report:
|location id||start||end noise data||download|
|P22A||8 Feb 2013||27 Mar 2013||Download|
|Q15A||15 Feb 2013||22 Mar 2013||Download|
|T25A||15 Feb 2013||22 Mar 2013||Download|
|V16A||15 Feb 2013||22 Mar 2013||Download|
View the Noise Compliance Assessment report Part A and Part B that has been conducted in accordance with the relevant Standard and submitted to the Victorian Government for review.
The Planning Permit, which is enforced by the Victorian State Government, required that pending landowner approval, noise monitoring was to be carried out at specified dwellings neighboring the Macarthur Wind Farm. Noise loggers were installed between February and March 2013 to capture the noise data for this objective assessment.
The Planning Permit requires that the noise level from an operating wind farm, measured outdoors of a dwelling at any relevant nominated wind speed, shall not exceed the background noise level before the wind farm was operating by more than five dB(A) or a level of 40 dB(A) (whichever is higher). The combined noise levels were assessed at 10 minute intervals at the specified dwellings. Compliance was assessed throughout the entire day, and separately at night when the background noise level is typically lower.
The testing also monitored for special audible characteristics (clearly audible tones, impulses, or modulation of sound levels). Special audible characteristics were not determined to be present at any of the noise monitoring locations.
AGL has carried out extra noise monitoring at Macarthur Wind Farm since the first turbines started operating on 30 September 2012. All results confirm that it remains compliant with the strict noise limits set in the planning permit.
Monthly noise monitoring reports include:
Since Macarthur Wind Farm became operational, AGL has carried out an extensive bat and avifauna monitoring program. The research, which is detailed below, has been conducted by Australian Ecological Research Services.
If you would like more information, please contact our Community Engagement team on 1800 039 600 or email email@example.com
An extensive two-year bat and avifauna mortality monitoring program at Macarthur Wind Farm studied mortality rates resulting from collision with the blades of wind turbines, with a particular focus on threatened species known to occur within the region.
Results show negligible effects on populations of threatened species. Key findings from the two-year monitoring program include:
- Only two collision mortalities of listed threatened species were detected during two years of intensive monitoring (a Black Falcon in 2013 and a Southern Bent-wing Bat in 2014)
- The birds that collided most commonly with turbines in 2014 were introduced Eurasian Skylarks
- The annual mortality of all native birds in 2014 was estimated at 3.31 ± 0.78 per turbine
- Amongst native birds, species of raptors were more prone to collision than any other group of birds, consistent with other wind farms in southern Australia
For more information see:
The initial monitoring of Brolgas took place within the vicinity of the wind farm for two years post-construction.
Results of this initial study show that Macarthur Wind Farm does not appear to have had any detrimental impact on the local Brolga population, either from direct impact with turbines or displacement from habitat. There have been no Brolga collisions with turbines and Brolgas have successfully bred on the wind farm and continue to return to the site each year for the breeding season.
Additional monitoring was carried out during the 2016 breeding season, following record rainfall and flooding. The monitoring found a total of seven Brolgas, including three pairs and one chick, within three kilometres of the wind farm. All utilised wetlands habitats within the wind farm for most of the season.
For more information see:
A two-year bat monitoring program assessed bat species and their relative activity at different locations on the wind farm. As advised by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (formerly Department of Sustainability and Environment), monitoring was timed to coincide with the migratory periods of the Southern Bent-wing Bat in early autumn and late spring.
The subsequent report details the results of the autumn and spring 2014 monitoring periods. Overall bat activity was compared with that recorded during autumn and spring 2013 to examine changes in activity.
For more information see:
In this section
- Background Noise Assessment Report
- AGL Noise Monitoring Information Sheet
- Macarthur Wind Farm Infrasound & Low Frequency Noise Operational Monitoring Results
- Noise Compliance Assessment report Part A
- Noise Compliance Assessment report Part B