Cheap Power Ray of Hope

THE local government sector has raised hopes solar farm projects could be rolled out in the region to boost power supply security and taper skyrocketing power costs for industry. Limestone Coast Local Government Association executive officer Dominic Testani, said councils were keen to learn more about the potential for solar development. "We are also keen to work with industries that are looking at renewable energy," MrTestoni said.

"This region would support a very large solar farm - an investment of up to $100m," Mr Drucker said. While the high cost of land could be a hurdle, he said the company would lease the site from the landholder. Given the anti-gas mining sentiment in regional areas, he said a solar farm was a green alternative given there were no negative environmental impacts. He also debunked myths that Mount Gambier was not suit­ able for solar projects, claiming it was more appropriate than some European countries that had recorded a rapid uptake in solar technology. But he said four key pillars would need to be achieved before a large-scale farm could be developed.

"We need to secure suitable land that is quite flat, develop­ ment approval from council and a connection agreement to plug into the transmission network," Mr Drucker said.Moreover, he said funding would also have to be secured given the significant construc­tion price. "It is a big investment, but a lot of companies are willing to invest in these projects because they are ethical and provided long-term revenue," Mr Drucker said.He said superannuation funds were particularly interested in investing in clean energy projects. Mr Drucker said the Blue Lake city was particularly attractive given it was home to large scale industrial sites and close to the power distribution network. He said his company was also keen to post industrial roof top projects that were potentially multi-million dollar installations at major processing sites.
Mr Drucker said the Mount Gambier district was attractive due to its large timber process­ ing sites as well as council infrastructure such as the air­ port and Glenburnie saleyards. He also flagged the Kimberly­ Clark Australia site near Millicent as a potential candi­date for roof-top solar panels. "These projects would need
no poles and wires and would supply long-term energy to those sites," Mr Drucker said.

He said his company would pay for the installation and the business would rent the system. "There would be no capital costs for the business, which would enjoy cheaper power costs,"the company official said. Any surplus power would be fed into the state's electricity grid, which was an additional income source. Mr Drucker said the Limestone Coast was attractive for investment given the power security problem s plaguing the state and expensive cost of power. Regarding a large scale
project, he said the company would need everything to fall into place.

"There maybe a blockage such as the lack of connection to the power grid or a problem with the land," Mr Drucker said. The company chief said it would take two years to get the project off the ground if suitable land was found.

He said development approv­als and plans would take one year and it wou)d take another 12 months to build.

The forum will be held on July 24.