Renewable Newstead (RN), the community group behind the innovative plan for a solar farm of up to 10 megawatts (MW), says the planning permit application is a great step towards its goal of delivering affordable and reliable renewable energy to Newstead and surrounds.

“We have applied for a permit to build a solar farm big enough to generate enough electricity for Newstead (2-3MW) plus some extra to make it viable for a commercial partner to build and operate,” RN’s spokesperson Gen Barlow said.

“Our permit, if granted, would allow a solar array of up to 10MW or up to 27, 400 solar photovoltaic panels, though the size is not finalised. The panels will track the sun.

“We have been working towards this for nine years, ever since our community said it wanted to address our energy needs and emissions, and for our volunteer group and our community, this is a very exciting phase.”

The proposed site is the corner of Captains Gully Rd and Clarke Lane, 3km west of Newstead. The panels would cover about 20hectares of the 73hectare site.

This site was chosen from six sites offered by local landowners in response to our call for expressions of interest in leasing land for the farm. The land is currently grazed and will be leased from its owner for 25 years. Grazing can continue.

The solar array will be connected to the current 22kV powerline that runs along the Pyrenees Highway, 500 metres north of the site.

“While the farm plan itself is fairly standard, albeit modest in size, it’s the model for the farm’s operation and retailing the electricity generated by it, that is especially innovative and one that we think will excite the energy industry,” Gen said.

“We believe our model will deliver renewably-sourced electricity at lower prices to all, including renters and people who can’t afford to install solar panels at home, while also
accounting for grid costs. That’s a pretty good trifecta and one we think solves a lot of issues for delivering renewable energy locally.”

“Power distributor Powercor partnered with us to trial a special tariff for Newstead that will help this project deliver.”

It’s expected construction would begin within 12 months of the planning permit being granted.

The planning permit application is open for review and a decision by the Planning Minister is not expected before September 23, 2020.

Renewable Newstead would also welcome any feedback, comment or queries via email at info@renewablenewstead.com.au or via our website at www.renewablenewstead.com.au

In another key step, Renewable Newstead will this week call for expressions of interest from companies keen to build and operate the generator and retail the electricity it produces.

This will set the stage for a formal call for tenders for these contracts later this year.

Contacts for media
Genevieve Barlow, Renewable Newstead 0427 762633 (available after 1.30pm Thurs & Fri)
Geoff Park, Renewable Newstead, 0418 138 632
For questions about the planning permit application process, Fi Cotter of Energy Forms, 0408 587 095

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