Plans to build a 1.8MW community solar and battery farm in the New South Wales-based electorate of federal energy minister Angus Taylor have taken a major step forward after raising more than half a million dollars from local investors.
The solar farm, which is being built in the NSW Southern Tablelands regional city of Goulburn 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.
Last week the $4.2 million project got at least part-way to this goal, with its first investor information meeting attracting more than 150 attendees and raising more than $500,000 towards the cost of construction.
“It was amazing,” said CE4G president Peter Fraser. “Within half an hour of the presentation concluding people had flocked to the investment tables and signed up for over half a million dollars.
“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.”
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 last year, the group secured a contract with local outfit Komo Energy for development services of the solar farm and in March of this year, won a $2.1 million grant from the state government to add 400kW/800kWh battery storage.
Last month the project hit a minor snag when CE4G mad the decision to cut ties with its inverter supplier, Siemens, over the latter’s support of the massive Adani coal mine in Queensland. But this late change in the technology mix doesn’t seem to slowed progress – or dampened investor enthusiasm.
“With the closing of coal fired power stations just around the corner, the supply of electricity will have to be met with renewables and the solar farm will be well positioned to help meet that demand,” said Fraser late last week.
“And with the help of a grant from the NSW government, the 400MW battery will maximise revenue and profit as low-cost electricity generated in the middle of the day is sold into the grid at peak prices in the evening.”
CE4G has also established a co-op to run the project to ensure a “substantially democratic structure” that will give all investors an equal say in how the project is built and managed.
Fraser says the team is hoping to raise the bulk of its $2 million community investment target from the local community by November 20 before extending the share offer to a broader audience.
To this end, CE4G is running a webinar on October 28 and a further public meeting at Goulburn Workers on November 4. Click here for more information.