Solar farm support
The overwhelming mood of attendees at the community information session in Mulwala was of support for a proposed $130 million solar farm on 378ha of agricultural land bordering Tocumwal Road and Savernake Road.
About 30 Mulwala and district people attended the 75-minute session on April 9, which was led by ESCO Pacific’s head of development Allison Hawke.
A leading Australian developer of utility solar farms, ESCO Pacific staff said they would meet with any person about the proposal on the Thomas property, including the neighbouring Jacques family who expressed their displeasure at the proposal.
“I’d be horrified at the thought of living adjacent to it - in a centralised area, a beautiful area and in my front yard,” Mrs Sue Jacques said.
“We’ve been farming here for 50 years. It would look like a power plant.” The utility scale solar farm would consist of up to 400,000 solar panels and, in the words of Ms Hawke, “would represent a significant injection” in the area.
Due to its size, NSW State Government must decide on the proposal, after receiv- ing any concerns from Federation Council and would undoubtedly impose appropriate planning conditions, including extensive and appropriate landscaping, and traffic management.
The property’s owner, Albert Thomas, was approached some 12 months ago by various companies regarding a solar farm on his property. “We had at least seven offers,” he told the Free Press.
Like other farmers, Mr Thomas has experienced the “ins and outs of farming with droughts and floods”. “We were made an offer and we thought, why not take it up?
“It’s obvious power stations are being shut down in Australia, and Yarrawonga and Mulwala - especially Yarrawonga - has always been short on electricity. There’s no heavy industry.”
The proposed utility scale renewable energy project of up to 140MW would generate renewable energy from the power of the sun. The power station would export its electricity via value cable to the adjacent Mulwala Substation.
Construction of the solar farm would generate an estimated 130 jobs over nine months. Upon completion, there would be an estimated four full-time and eight part-time jobs covering ongoing operation and maintenance.