SmartestEnergy signs PPA for Girgarra Solar Farm


Developer Enel Green Power said construction of the Girgarre Solar Farm is well underway on the site just 10 kilometres from Standhope, between Bendigo and Shepparton in Victoria.

The project is scheduled to become fully operational in early 2025. Now that SmartestEnergy has signed a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with Enel Australia, the approximately 200 GWh of clean energy produced each year by the Girgarre plant will go to the retailer’s commercial and industrial customers.

The Girgarre Solar Farm, located about 70 kilometres west of Shepparton, is remarkable for eliciting no objections from the local community. This is largely owing to the fact that Peter Leeson, from Leeson Group, conducted community liaison for the project before it was sold to Enel Green Power. Notably, $70,000 in revenues from a crop which sprang up on the site prior to construction was donated to the community via Girgarre Development Group, which used the funds to upgrade shared facilities in town.

The goodwill already generated is an asset that appears to be appreciated by the Australian subsidiary of the Italian energy company.

In announcing the PPA with SmartestEnergy, Enel Green Power Australia Chief Executive Officer Werther Esposito said, “We would like to sincerely thank the local community, including the local Campaspe Shire Council, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation, amongst other valued local stakeholders, for their support of the project to date.”

“Through Enel Green Power’s creating shared value approach, our team are focused on ensuring proactive engagement and benefit sharing for the local community throughout the project’s construction and operational phases.”

Earlier this year, Enel Green Power Australia sold a 50% share in its Australian solar portfolio to Japanese oil and gas giant Inpex, which gives the Japanese firm joint control of 254 MW of Enel Australia’s installed capacity with another 170 MW under construction. Enel said it is further developing its portfolio with wind, solar, storage and hybrid projects across Australia, as well as expanding its activities in solutions within its retail and trading operations.

SmartestEnergy is wholly owned by the Japanese Marubeni Corporation. The B2B energy retailer has offices in the UK, USA and Australia, establishing the latter in 2019.

So far this year, the company has signed agreements in Australia with Woolworths in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, and a long-term PPA in southeast Queensland with Greek energy giant Mytilineos for Kingaroy Solar farm.

Also this year, the energy retailer signed PPAs with Octopus Australia to offtake 25% of generation from its Darlington Point Solar Farm in New South Wales and with Queensland government-owned utility DS energy for its first 100% renewable energy contract. The agreement now signed with Enel Australia appears to be the first PPA that SmartestEnergy has signed with Enel Group.

SmartestEnergy said its new PPA with Enel for Girgarra Solar Farm involves enough energy to power about 43,000 households.

Enel said mounting structures and systems that support the solar modules are currently under construction while piling is continuing across the site.

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