He travelled to the hills above Lockerbie to press the switch on the Crossdykes site, operated by Muirhall Energy.
The ten turbine windfarm is the UK’s largest subsidy-free onshore development and with a total capacity of 46 MW, it will generate enough electricity to power around 45,000 homes.
Communities close to Crossdykes have five per cent ownership in the project and will benefit from a share of the windfarm’s profits each year, in addition to a community benefit package of £7000 for every megawatt of power.
That will be used to help fund projects including job creation, training opportunities, improved amenities and sports facilities or environmental enhancements and is expected to total £8 million over the 25-year lifetime of the project.
Muirhall bosses say the ownership stake is the largest community investment in renewables since 2017, and the first time in Scotland that a community has bought into a subsidy-free site.
Speaking at the official opening, Michael Matheson MSP said: “As one of the biggest shared ownership projects of its kind in Scotland, the Crossdykes project is contributing to our ambitions for at least half of all newly consented commercial renewable energy project to have an element of shared ownership with communities. Its innovative ownership model will also provide helpful insight into how the sector and communities can work together to develop similar partnerships in the future.”
Meanwhile, Muirhall’s managing director Chris Walker said: “Crossdykes Wind Farm is a flagship project for Muirhall Energy – the largest project we have constructed to date.
“Crossdykes was also our first development to feature our Initial Investment Fund to allow local people to benefit from the project as soon as we started construction. It is also the first project where we delivered improved local internet connectivity through our own fibre cabling.
“We intend to make these offerings a standard part of the way we do business to ensure that local people and communities continue to benefit from the success of our projects.
“We have had tremendous support from the communities around Crossdykes, and we look forward to working in partnership to further maximise the potential benefits that our neighbouring projects of Hopsrig and Loganhead could bring to the area.”
And, speaking on behalf of the community, resident Chris Miles said: “We are excited to be such a fundamental part of this shared ownership scheme. This agreement is hugely important for all of our communities but critical for future generations.”