THE VICTORIAN government has proposed the Southern Ocean off Portland to be the state’s second offshore wind declared area.

The Victorian government announced the proposal on Wednesday, calling it the next big step in the state’s renewable energy transition.

State minister for energy and resources Lily D’Ambrosio visited the region with federal minister for energy Chris Bowen to announce a 60-day public consultation process would be undertaken before the Australian government makes a decision.

“We welcome the addition of a second offshore wind zone in Victoria and want to ensure Portland and surrounding communities can harness the benefits of our renewable energy transition,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“Victoria is blessed with rich renewable sources, including our windy coastlines, this will help us achieve our renewable energy target of 95% by 2035.”

Member for western Victoria Jacinta Ermacora also welcomed the announcement.

“This is an exciting day for western Victoria as we undergo a once in a generation energy transition – and we’ll be making sure the local community continues to be at the heart of process as consultation unfolds.”

The Victorian government is targeting at least two gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2032, four gigawatts by 2035 and nine gigawatts by 2040.

It expects the industry to generate billions in investment and create more than 6000 jobs.

Offshore Wind Energy Victoria (OWEV) intends to continue its work with local Traditional Owners to discuss the potential zone and ensure future development of offshore wind in the area is undertaken in genuine partnership.

OWEV plans to assist the Portland community through the consultation process, making sure it is informed and has every opportunity to participate and influence the location of the final declared area.

The state government said the recently announced Victorian Transmission Investment Framework would ensure environmental, land-use, cultural and social factors are considered early in the process to inform locations for new transmission projects across the state, including new transmission that is needed to connect offshore wind farms to Victoria’s grid.

VicGrid is currently undertaking significant community consultation in Gippsland, Victoria’s first designated offshore wind energy zone, and that process will also be followed in the Portland region.

A declared area allows companies to apply for licenses to explore the potential for establishing a project within its boundary. The state government said any proposed projects would undergo rigorous environmental effects statement processes.