A $170 million solar farm project at Finley with the capacity to power 60,000 homes is expected to employ 200 people.
ESCO Pacific received approval from the NSW government in January to establish 500,000 panels across 300 hectares of private agriculutral land, six kilometres west of the township.
Head of Development Allison Hawke said the tender process was now well underway.
“The next step for us is to confirm who the lease contractor will be, and there will be a process for that contractor to mobilise a large sub-contracting workforce from the local region,” she said.
“Work’s expected to start in the middle of this year and take approximately nine months to complete.
“There there will be an operational workforce, residing locally, for the 40-year duration of the solar farm.”
Ms Hawke said the site was chosen because of its flatness, lack of environmental constraints and proximity to a TransGrid substation.
“It’s one of our larger projects, a 170 megawatt solar farm, and the first of ours to be approved in NSW,” she said.
“ESCO Pacific typically looks to bring on board an investor partner and that process is underway.
“Once fed into the distribution network, the electricity can be consumed anywhere on the national market.
“There’s a lot of interest in job creation and in how this project will strengthen the network.”
Berrigan Council Mayor Matthew Hannan said an initial community information session was held last year and council was looking forward to working with ESCO Pacific further.
“Obviously our local contractors being involved in a project of such size is exciting for our area and there will be also be flow-on for eateries and accomodation,” he said.
“There hasn’t really been much talk since the initial session, but I’d suggest now that they have state approval, things will ramp up.”
The solar panels will be installed on ground-mounted frames that will slowly track the daily horizontal movement of the sun.
The Melbourne-based company has also proposed a project of similar size at Mulwala and Ms Hawke said it was moving forward.
“We’ve received preliminary requirements from the state department of environment, and we’re busy undertaking site surveys and consultation in order to lodge the environment impact statement in the coming months,” she said.