AGL Energy Limited (AGL) and joint venture partner Meridian Energy Limited (Meridian) today announced that the first turbines have started turning and generating renewable energy at the Macarthur Wind Farm, located near Macarthur in South Western Victoria.

This milestone occurs after 23 months of construction, as it enters its latter stages. At construction peak the local workforce reached over 400 personnel, many from the South West region including labourers, plant operators, haulage contractors and quarry operators.

Macarthur Wind Farm project manager, Jeff Trompf, said that AGL, Meridian and project partners have invested in various local community projects and assisted local community groups with key funding for equipment supporting local health care and emergency services groups.

"We are excited to see the turbines start to turn at Macarthur and look forward to the wind farm becoming fully operational," Mr Trompf said.

AGL and Meridian, through their development of the Macarthur Wind Farm, have also invested in excess of $10 million into local infrastructure, including roads. In particular, key sections of the Macarthur-Hawkesdale Road have been upgraded between Macarthur and the wind farm site, as has Tarrone North Road from Woolsthorpe Heywood Road to the Tarrone terminal station site and maintenance is ongoing. Additional funding has also been provided directly to both Moyne Shire and VicRoads to facilitate maintenance programs of their respective road assets.

The wind farm is located across three properties that are predominately used for sheep and cattle grazing and covers approximately 5,500 hectares.

It is being constructed by a Leighton Contractors/Vestas Consortium. Leighton is a leading national construction company whilst Vestas is the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines.

The wind turbines connect at 33kV to the Macarthur substation, where voltage is increased to 132kV and transmitted via overhead lines from the wind farm to the Tarrone substation, where the voltage is further increased to 500kV before connecting into the existing Heywood Moorabool transmission line and the national electricity grid.

Once all 140 wind turbines are operational, which is scheduled for early 2013, the wind farm will operate for 25 years. It will provide full time employment for approximately 20 local residents. It will also generate 420 MW of clean renewable energy, powering more than 220,000 average Victorian homes and abating more than 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.

AGL is one of Australia's largest investors in renewable energy investments and in our experience, wind farms bring significant economic growth and benefits to local communities and the broader region in general.

About AGL

AGL is one of Australia's leading integrated renewable energy companies and is taking action toward creating a sustainable energy future for our investors, communities and customers. Drawing on 175 years of experience, AGL operates retail and merchant energy businesses, power generation assets and an upstream gas portfolio. AGL has one of Australia's largest retail energy and dual fuel customer bases. AGL has a diverse power generation portfolio including base, peaking and intermediate generation plants, spread across traditional thermal generation as well as renewable sources including hydro, wind, landfill gas and biomass. AGL is Australia's largest private owner and operator of renewable energy assets and is looking to further expand this position by exploring a suite of low emission and renewable energy generation development opportunities.