Council turns to solar and storage to cut energy costs


Cabonne Shire Council will push ahead with plans to construct a 4 MW solar farm and battery energy storage system at Eugowra in the New South Wales (NSW) central west after securing more than $1.5 million (USD 1.04 million) in funding from the state government.

The funding, allocated as part of the state government’s Resources for Regions program, will allow council to plan, build and install the proposed $4 million Eugowra Solar Farm.

The project, to be built on an eight-hectare site about two kilometres south of Eugowra, will comprise PV panels mounted on a PEG frame system featuring steel rods driven into the ground, eliminating the need for concrete footings. Application documents indicate the panels will be mounted in a dual east-west static configuration to maximise higher yields in the morning and afternoon.

The facility will connect to the grid via Essential Energy’s existing 11 kV distribution line which is located near the project site.

The project is also expected to include a battery with the development application outlining plans for the deployment of energy storage units of an unspecified technology or capacity “to store power for electricity use at night.”

“Phase two is currently being analysed but will form a natural progressive step to fully utilise the power generated by the solar farm,” the application reads. “Phase two would consist of two power storage units. This may be in various forms such as a battery or alternative energy storage systems such as hydrogen.”

Cabonne Mayor Kevin Beatty (left), with NSW Regional Transport Minister Sam Farraway and Orange businessman Tony Mileto.

Image: Cabonne Council

Cabonne Shire Mayor Kevin Beatty said the Eugowra Solar Farm project will bring down energy expenses across all 85 council-owned sites and help council achieve its renewable energy targets.

Beatty said the benefits of the project will also extend beyond the boundaries of Cabonne Council which is one of 16 councils in the central NSW and Riverina regions that comprise the Central NSW Joint Organisation Councils association.

“This renewable energy project plans to create and develop regional jobs, stabilise the energy distribution network, and provide Cabonne Council, and all Central NSW Joint Organisation Councils, additional power to meet their 50% renewable energy target by 2030 or earlier,” Beatty said.

The Resources for Regions program is part of the $3.3 billion Regional Growth Fund, designed to support growing regional centres, activate local economies and improve services and community infrastructure for regional communities.

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the Resources for Regions program has delivered 355 projects worth $560 million to mining communities since its inception in 2012, stimulating local economies and delivering critical infrastructure.

“The Resources for Regions program is about giving back to these mining communities that contribute so much to the NSW economy,” he said. “It’s absolutely crucial we continue to support regional mining towns that supply our state with the resources needed to keep the lights on and the economy moving forward.”

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