THE long-awaited idea of a locally owned and operated solar farm in Goulburn is now going full-steam ahead (to borrow an industrial revolution phrase), following the approval of the plans by the council last week.
If, as the proponents hope, it is completed by the end of the year, it will be among the first community-owned solar farms in the country, so part of the new age revolution, that of renewable energy.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council has approved the DA for a 1.2MW solar farm on a 2.5ha site in North Goulburn, but the approval has taken nine months, a fact which proponents Community Energy For Goulburn (CE4G) say has more to do with it being the first of its kind that the council has had to deal with, rather than any specific complexities with it.
Now CE4G just want to get on with nailing down the “financial and legals” as they put it, but basically this a very important stage to get right, because they are going to offer the the solar farm to investors.
“We are going to be asking people to invest their superannuation and other savings into this plan so we have to get it right,” CE4G chair Peter Fraser said.
Mr Fraser said the Goulburn Solar Farm, when completed, would demonstrate that a community could build and own a large scale renewable energy project.
With the general lack of direction on renewable energy from other levels of government in this country (apart from the ACT Government), CE4G are to be applauded for leading the way and showing other communities that this can be done: that people don’t have to wait for politicians to get things happening; that communities can do their bit to reduce carbon emissions and take some action against climate change.
A few other factors are helping solar investment at the moment, including the falling costs for solar panels coupled with the increasing prices that solar households and businesses can get from retailers for power they feed back into the grid.
IPARTS’ recent draft determination for a fairer value for solar power doubles the previous tariff of 5.5 cents-7.2 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 11.6-14.6 cents/kWh.
Member for Goulburn Pru Goward has said this will also benefit the 5361 households and businesses that are generating power from solar systems in the Goulburn electorate.
“Power to the people,” John Lennon sang, and it is happening in Goulburn – literally.