PLANS for a locally-owned and operated solar farm in Goulburn shone a little brighter on Monday when the proponents lodged their development application (DA) with the council.
The Community Energy For Goulburn (CE4G) proposal is for a 1.2MW solar farm on a 2.5ha site off Bridge St, between Sydney Rd and the railway line.
The solar farm would contain 4000 panels, each generating 300MW of power.
CE4G spokesman Nestor Ellinopoullos said lodging the DA was the next step in what he hoped would be a ground-breaking community renewable energy project, one of the first in the country.
"If it gets approved by the council, we would like to start construction in October and have it finished by mid-summer [2016/2017]," Mr Ellinopoullos said.
"There is not much to it. We basically place the panels onto frames that are screwed into the ground."
Laterals Planning have prepared the DA, which Mr Ellinopoullos said would power up to 400 houses.
Clearing of the site, which is owned by Divall's Haulage, has already been undertaken. The lane, zoned a B6 Enterprise Corridor, was previously used for residential and fuel storage purposes. It is currently vacant.
"The ARTC owns the land adjacent to the project, where the railway line runs, and they have also given us an agreement to use it for such purposes," Mr Ellinopoullos said.
"The feasibility study has been completed and the exciting thing about it all is that [if it is approved] it will be a community-based and controlled project, with minimum 51 per cent to be owned by community-based shareholders. There is also a view to eventually the community having 100 pc ownership of it.
"It would offer a better return on investment than banks at 5-6 pc and local residents currently buying renewable electricity will be able to buy energy generated by this local solar farm."
Stage One is underway at the moment, with plans for Stage Two to supply 0.5MW power to Goulburn Correctional Centre.
"This idea has been warmly greeted by Pru Goward and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts," Mr Ellinopoullos said. "The State Government has directed government bodies to access renewable energy where possible."
A private investor gave CE4G the $4000 DA lodgement fee.
Mr Ellinopoullos said there would be a viewing platform near Bridge St and CE4G could also turn a vacant house on the land into an education and information centre.
CE4G member Caleb Fisher said there would be no glare from the panels for motorists on Sydney Road as the panels would be facing the other way and angled at 30 degrees.
"Also, North Goulburn residents will not be able to see it because it is below the nearby tree line," Mr Fisher said.
The solar farm would also be located on a ridge that is above the one-in-100-year flood zone level, he said.