Bright Idea Explored

A CLEAN energy development company will begin scouring the Limestone Coast to possibly build a large-scale solar farm, which could be potentially worth up to $100m.

CountryWide Energy (CWE) will hold a forum in Mount Gambier next month to canvass business and council officials on possible opportunities for an expansive solar farm or multiple roof-top solar projects at major industrial sites.

The company is building a $45m solar panel farm at Wangaratta, which will be the largest project of its type ever built in Victoria.

CWE director Geoff Drucker said the company would investigate sites for development across the region, including Mount Gambier.

While renewable energy projects were an opportunity for industry, he said councils were also exploring projects for community-owned infrastructure.

Mr Testoni said energy security and price was the highest priority for many businesses.

“When you are looking at attracting businesses to the region, energy is one of those issues that are at the top of the list,” he said.

“Renewable energy is a real possibility and an alternative to coal-fired power stations et cetera - it is something we definitely need to look at.”

Grant District Mayor Richard Sage said the region needed power security and welcomed interest from renewable companies.

“We can’t have our power supply shut-off on a whim because of power over-loading,” Mr Sage said.

But he said councils would need to assess any renewable energy project - including solar farms - on planning regulations.

“It would depend where the project was, if it was close to houses and the aesthetics of the area - all of these things need to be taken into consideration,” the mayor said.

But he said it was a “positive step” energy construction companies were coming to the region to discuss potential developments with councils and industry.

Mr Sage said businesses and industries were being hit with exorbitant power price increases, which were hurting their viability.