KING Island residents will decide whether they want the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere built on their island.Renewable energy business Hydro Tasmania has proposed a 600-megawatt wind farm comprising 200 turbines for the Bass Strait isle.
The proposal has been deemed technically, economically and environmentally viable and has been endorsed by Tasmania's three major political parties.
However, Hydro Tasmania chairman David Crean said it would not go ahead without the support of the majority of King Island's 1600 residents.
"This project will only proceed to full feasibility if the majority of King Islanders are in favour," Mr Crean said yesterday.
The farm would generate about 2400 gigawatt hours of renewable energy for the national market, enough to supply about 240,000 homes, according to a statement released by Hydro Tasmania.
The Tasmanian government said the output would be sold into the Victorian electricity grid via an underwater cable across Bass Strait.
It would account for more than five per cent of Australia's renewable energy target and reduce the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere by around 1.9 million tonnes a year, the Hydro Tasmania statement said.
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings said it would be the biggest single infrastructure project in the state's history.
"This project would provide hundreds of millions of dollars a year in extra revenue to the state," Ms Giddings said, adding it was likely to require significant upgrades to King Island's road and port infrastructure, which would create more jobs locally.
Consultations will be carried out over the next three months.
If the project proceeds, it is expected to create up to 500 jobs during the two-year construction phase and 10-20 jobs when the wind farm is operational.
Opposition energy spokesman Matthew Groom said the Liberal Party strongly supported the development.
"Tasmania needs to grab this opportunity with both hands."