Plans to build a 1.8MW community solar and battery farm in the New South Wales-based electorate of federal energy minister Angus Taylor are gathering pace, after developers issued a call for expressions of interest to design and build the project.
The Goulburn Solar Farm, which is being built in the NSW Southern Tablelands by not-for-profit group Community Energy 4 Goulburn (CE4G), aims to be majority-owned by local residents, who can buy in to the project for a minimum $400 a share.
CE4G’s president, Peter Fraser, said on Tuesday that the group was particularly keen to sign up local companies and contractors for the $4 million project, that would include a stand-by 400kW/800kWh battery.
“It’s a great opportunity for local contractors and developers to get involved in this important technology, not just for the jobs it creates but also for the chance to learn new skills that will be in increasing demand over the next decades,” Fraser said.
“The whole idea of community energy is to keep the profits within the community rather than sending those profits to a corporation that has no direct connection to our community. And the more jobs we also keep in Goulburn the better.”
The pioneering community energy project has attracted strong interest from local investors, with an investor information meeting in mid-October attracting more than 150 attendees and raising more than $500,000 towards the cost of construction.
“It’s obvious that people are looking for safe ethical investment opportunities, and in a regional community like Goulburn, the appetite is very strong, even though it’s right in the middle of Angus Taylor’s electorate,” CE4G’s Fraser said at the time.
As One Step has reported, the trail-blazing – and John Hewson-endorsed – project has come a long way since CE4G was set up four years ago.
In August of 2019, the group secured a contract with local outfit Komo Energy for development services of the solar farm and in March of 2020, won a $2.1 million grant from the state government to add the battery storage component.
According to the latest update posted last month, the project has now banked more than 85% of its target in a trust account in Bank Australia.
“We’ve registered over 200 members and issued share certificates to our investors. We’ve taken delivery of a comprehensive connection study from Essential Energy outlining our next steps, all within budget,” the update says.
“Our project is one of the first community energy projects in NSW and now that we are ready to begin construction we are very keen to see local companies, contractors and designers to get involved in this fantastic community owned project,” said Fraser this week.
The project’s development partner Komo Energy will be managing the tender process. Interested parties can register their EOI by going to the Goulburn solar farm website and following the links.