Goulburn community solar farm on hold, government indecision blamed

The 1.8 MW Goulburn Community Solar Farm is in limbo thanks to procrastination by state and federal governments, says a local clean energy group.

Community Energy for Goulburn (CE4G) had been planning the project for four years. The aim was to build a 5,000 solar panel farm with a solar monitor on a 2.5 ha site.

However, CE4G president Ed Suttle told the Goulburn Post that because of government inaction and indecision over energy policy it was “almost impossible to foresee” the financial state of the project beyond the next three years.

A community solar farm with arrays of solar panels

Community-owned solar farms give locals access to renewable energy and keep profits in the community

Feasibility study showed community solar farm viable

Initially, the NSW government gave CE4G a $52,000 grant to conduct a feasibility study.

The study was a collaboration between CE4G, the Australian Solar Council, the Goulburn Mulwaree Council and local businesses.

It found the project was technically feasible, financially viable and compliant. It also showed it had community support.

Earlier this year, Essential Energy also gave approval to the project to connect to the grid. Several construction companies were bidding to build it, and the design and final assessment phases were also near completion.

NSW government denies lack of support

However, last week Suttle announced at a CE4G meeting that the project will be delayed. He hit out at the state government, saying it had put a grant “on hold”.

However, local state member Pru Goward denied any indecision at state level. She said there is no grant application in progress and therefore no application on hold.

Goward indicated she has been actively seeking funding for the project, and that she is still “looking for grant opportunities”. This includes approaching the NSW Energy and Utilities Minister Don Harwin.

She added that the state government’s new Regional Community Energy Program may be able to help with the project.

Aussies not waiting for government action

The Federal Government’s indecision over future energy policy is having an impact on the progress of some renewable projects, including the Goulburn farm.

However, while the government makes up its mind, many Aussies are being proactive and arranging home solar installations. This lets them save a considerable sum on energy bills without having to wait for politicians to catch up.