THE first sod has been turned at the site of the first of 75 turbines that will be constructed as part of the Ararat Wind Farm.
Politicians of all persuasions attended a ground-breaking ceremony on Friday at ‘Turbine No 1’, which will be among the first to be installed and commissioned from mid-2016.
Ararat Rural City Mayor, Cr Paul Hooper described the event as an ‘incredibly momentous occasion’.
"It is not often that you can be associated with a $450 million development particularly in a small rural municipality such as ours,” he said.
"It is the second largest capital project that has ever taken place in Ararat's history, just following the Hopkins Correctional Centre redevelopment.
"Modelling suggests that there is $40 million worth of additional economic activity that will take place in the town of Ararat during the construction phase.”
With initial earthworks already underway, the development is on track to deliver its first electricity to the grid in September 2016.
Cr Hooper said the project has overcome the odds, due largely to the efforts of RES Australia and the Ararat community.
"It's been a hell of a journey, we've been through some good times and obviously had some disappointments but we've got there in the end and that's the important thing,” he said.
"As for RES, they are a company that we have absolute faith in, there engagement and commitment to the community is absolutely first class and I applaud their commitment to Ararat.”
RES Asia Pacific CEO David Povall said the way the community of Ararat has embraced the project is a story he shares with the world.
"Ararat is getting quoted in Japan, it is getting a profile beyond here in Australia," he said.
Downer Utilities Executive Director Trevor Cohen said the wind farm will become the second largest in Victoria and third largest in Australia.
"During the construction phase the Ararat Wind Farm will see more than 160 Australians employed directly, more than 120 indirectly and many millions of dollars injected into the local community,” he said.
"We are now set to begin the next phase of this exciting project which includes the construction of the access tracks, installation of the foundations and the wind towers and turbines.”
Construction is expected to be completed in 2017.