Wind farms ploughing millions into economy

TWO of the biggest wind farms in the Eastern Cape are steaming ahead towards completion and ploughing in millions of rands to boost the region’s coffers.

The Cookhouse and Jeffreys Bay wind farms form a part of the first round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and are nearing completion to supply green electricity to the grid.

Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm project manager Leo Quinn said the last of the 60 turbines had been erected and the wind farm was in full-scale commissioning phase in order to provide 138MW of electricity to the grid.

“We are already supplying the grid with 78MW of electricity from the commissioned turbines. It takes between five and six days to commission a turbine, which includes drying out equipment, testing the pitch of the blade and other pilot runs. We are at this stage commissioning about two turbines a day,” Quinn said.

Employees who worked at the Jeffreys Bay site could be involved in other projects in the province with the second and third rounds of the REIPPPP – some of which would start later this year – with the skills they had gained.

In August last year, at the peak of construction, there were 602 people working at the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, of whom 45% were from the area. A total of 6% of the wind farm is owned by Amandla Omoya Trust which it said would benefit the community within a 50km radius of the farm.

At the height of construction at the Cookhouse Wind Farm, 375 locals were hired in December to do civil works, which are slowly coming to an end. The focus is shifting to the wind farm’s commissioning phase. All 66 turbines should be erected by the end of this month if the present schedule is maintained.

Cookhouse Wind Farm spokesman Yolo Jama said more than R9.5-million had been spent in the local communities on accommodation and basic services since the start of the project. A further R2-million would still be spent in the local economy before the conclusion of the project.

About 25% of the Cookhouse Wind Farm will be owned by the Cookhouse Wind Farm Community Trust. Dividends will start to flow to the trust next year, and will be allocated to development projects in the Cookhouse, Somerset East and Bedford regions. – Cindy Preller


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