Solar farm a big boost for region
The Waroona Shire Council has weighed in on the proposed $250 million solar farm near the town, which has the potential to create a new industry for the region.
Shire president Mike Walmsley said a presentation and site tour of the planned Waroona Solar Farm had ticked all the boxes from a council perspective.
“This could be the start of another industry for the region altogether,” Cr Walmsley said.
He said project proponents South Energy had done substantial work on their business case and conducted significant research into the area.
“They have a little way to go yet, but it actually looks quite exciting,” Cr Walmsley said.
The site would stretch across 300ha of agricultural land at the end of Landwehr Road, 11km south-west of the Waroona town centre.
South Energy project manager Baifu Du said employing locals was a priority to the company, which anticipated creating 300 jobs during the construction phase and six permanent jobs for the next 25-30 years of operation.
Company representatives held an information session at the Waroona Memorial Hall on August 1 to let residents know what was planned for the area.
“South Energy intends to prioritise employing local people, including people from surrounding towns to Waroona, to work on the project where resources are available,” Mr Du said.
“We invited a reputable recruitment agent based in Bunbury to attend (the information session) who kindly assisted in us keeping record of any potential candidates showing interest in working on this project.”
The design of the solar panels would only cover 30-50 per cent of the land and allow sheep grazing underneath the solar-tracking panels.
Mr Du said South Energy had entered into an option agreement with the present landowner until the proposal progresses, which would then go to the Joint Development Assessment Panel.
Once approved construction of the solar farm is expected to take about 12-18 months.
“If that brings spending into the local economy then that is fantastic,” Cr Walmsley said.
The solar farm proposal is expected to have a production capacity of about 165MW, creating enough energy to power 60,000 homes on the grid.
Mr Du said the Waroona-based project would be in addition to the company’s planned solar farm in Benger, which is also in the development phase.
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