So­lar will power job cre­ation

Shepparton News - Country News - - THE WEATHER YEAR THAT WAS -

Four full-time and more than 300 tem­po­rary jobs are ex­pected to be cre­ated with the con­struc­tion of the Fin­ley So­lar Farm.

Sig­nal En­ergy con­struc­tion man­ager Kane Wil­liams said the new fa­cil­ity was ex­pected to be com­pleted in Oc­to­ber.

He said at the con­struc­tion peak, ex­pected to last three to four months, at least 350 em­ploy­ees would be re­quired on-site.

He said at other times the em­ploy­ment base for con­struc­tion would av­er­age 150 peo­ple.

Mr Wil­liams said Sig­nal En­ergy had hired a sub-con­trac­tor to de­liver the work on-site and em­ploy the work­ers.

He said the sub-con­trac­tor had been given a di­rec­tive to em­ploy lo­cals where pos­si­ble.

It could also be an em­ploy­ment op­tion for peo­ple made re­dun­dant at the De­niliquin Rice Mill.

‘‘Once the so­lar farm is fully con­structed there will be four full­time em­ploy­ees, and they will be hired lo­cally,’’ Mr Wil­liams said.

‘‘There have been about 120 ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est to work at the so­lar farm from lo­cals, so there’s the po­ten­tial for all of them to get hired in the con­struc­tion phase.

‘‘With some­thing like the De­niliquin Rice Mill clos­ing down it opens up more op­por­tu­nity.

‘‘It’s bet­ter for our big­ger sub­con­trac­tor to use lo­cals be­cause it’s cheaper, as they won’t need to pay for travel ex­penses and things like that.

‘‘The idea is to hire as many lo­cals as pos­si­ble who are will­ing to do the work.

‘‘There will be some peo­ple who have to come in (from out of the area) but that’s for more spe­cial­ist trades.

‘‘This is my fourth so­lar farm in Aus­tralia and it’s so im­por­tant to utilise lo­cals; it’s good for the com­mu­nity and cre­ates a good at­mos­phere.

‘‘They know the land, the town and the con­tacts. Many of the busi­nesses we’ve hired al­ready have been re­ally help­ful be­cause they know what needs to be done out here.’’

Sig­nal En­ergy has also ear­marked us­ing Fin­ley TAFE to train young trade ap­pren­tices to ser­vice the so­lar farm into the fu­ture.

‘‘We’re still look­ing at op­tions there,’’ Mr Wil­liams said.

‘‘One idea is to tar­get school leavers as labour­ers do­ing train­ing through the TAFE.

‘‘We’re also look­ing at an elec­tri­cal aware­ness course through Fin­ley TAFE.

‘‘We’re try­ing to in­volve the com­mu­nity as much as we can.

‘‘When we get back (from Christ­mas break) it will be pretty full on,’’ he said.

‘‘The so­lar farm must be com­plete and op­er­a­tional by Oc­to­ber 1 and we’re look­ing at hav­ing all pan­els on the struc­ture by the end of May.

‘‘Jan­uary to May is most likely when we’ll have the max­i­mum num­ber of peo­ple at the site.

‘‘Af­ter that most of the work re­quires spe­cial­ist trades to do con­nec­tions and other things.

‘‘As well as four peo­ple full­time on main­te­nance there will be times we need spe­cial­ists to come in; for ex­am­ple to clean pan­els.’’

The $170 mil­lion Fin­ley So­lar Farm pro­posal was ap­proved by the NSW Gov­ern­ment in Fe­bru­ary.

It is lo­cated about 6 km west of Fin­ley, where about 500 000 so­lar pan­els will be con­structed across about 300 ha. They will pro­duce up to 170 megawatts of power.

It is ex­pected to con­nect di­rectly into the Tran­sGrid 132kV, which is the high volt­age trans­mis­sion net­work that runs through the area.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties . . . Sig­nal En­ergy says it will em­ploy at least 350 work­ers at the height of con­struc­tion of the Fin­ley So­lar farm, us­ing as many lo­cal peo­ple as pos­si­ble.

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