Energise Gloucester's latest project for a community solar farm is one step closer to fruition with State Government chipping in half the capital.
Member for Upper Hunter, Michael Johnsen recently announced the Gloucester Community Solar Farm project received $460,000 from the NSW Government's Regional Community Energy Fund.
It's one of seven successful projects under the fund's first funding round, which is designed to support renewable energy and storage projects owned or led by communities in regional NSW.
"This innovative renewable energy project will endeavour to make electricity more reliable and affordable for the Gloucester community," Mr Johnsen said. "This is an important investment in diverse energy sources for NSW."
The funds equate to just over half of the total project cost, with Engerise Gloucester needing to raise the remaining $380,000. According to Energise Gloucester chair, David Marston additional funds will come by way of community shares, donations and pro bono support.
"The community shares will provide around three per cent annual dividend," Mr Marston explained. "It means that the Gloucester community will own and operate its own solar farm."
As well as raising the capital, Energise Gloucester will be looking for a co-operative to run the endeavour.
"The first step is to form a steering committee which set up the co-operative," Mr Marston explained.
The solar farm will basically work as a power station generating electricity through the 1600 photovoltaic panels mounted on a ground structure in a farm paddock near Gloucester. The location of the farm will be determined by the co-operative and the generated electricity will be sold to an energy provider which will on-sell it to customers. One of the key features of the project is the inclusion of a discounted rate for Gloucester residents on a low income to help make electricity more affordable.
This isn't the first energy solution Energise Gloucester has undertaken having worked with the Bucketts Way Neighbhourhood Group to install a solar system to help drastically reduce the not-for-profit organisation's electricity bills. It's also not the last project with several ideas already in the works and plans to build more solar farms in the area.
Energise Gloucester was planning to hold a public launch, however, due to the current health concerns around the COVID-19 virus it will take place at a later date. The hope is to get the project built in 2021 with the generation of electricity kicking off in early 2022.
For more information visit www.energisegloucester.org/ or call David Marston on 0438 316 644, Neill Bencke on 0407066445 or Di Montague on 0419880804. The Regional Community Energy Fund is funded under the NSW Climate Change Fund to support improving energy reliability and affordability in regional communities. For more information visit https://energy.nsw.gov.au/regional-community-energy.