Plans are underway to create the first council operated and community funded solar farm in Australia in Lismore by the end of this year.
The Lismore City Council has today announced a partnership with Farming the Sun, Australia’s largest community solar energy initiative, to build the solar farm.
A launch will be held next Thursday at the Lismore Workers Club in an effort to attract 40 investors who will buy shares in the solar farm.
The initial concept was to have a 250-450kW solar system owned by the community, with the council agreeing to buy back the power over a decade. However, obstacles such as difficulties with sharing power across council sites and the uncertainty of federal renewable energy policy has led to a change in thinking and in the enterprise model.
The investment structure is now based on a community loan, with Lismore Community Solar lending funds to Lismore City Council, which will use it to construct and operate two 100kW solar farms at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.
Farming the Sun’s Adam Blakester said if there was ever a region that could build Australia’s first council/community solar farm and provide a model others could emulate, it was the northern rivers.
‘There is a groundswell of sustainability and renewable energy work right across the northern rivers region including one of the highest uptakes of residential solar power, the North Coast Energy Forum, Sustain Northern Rivers and Gasfield Free Northern Rivers,’ Mr Blakester said.
‘We are seeking up to 40 investors who see themselves taking on, or building on, a high profile leadership role in renewable energy and sustainability.
‘A handful of the investors will also be required to take on directorship roles for the community companies that we set up under the Lismore Community Solar banner.
‘We’re not asking investors to hand over any money just yet, but rather we need to identify those who are genuinely interested so that we can be confident that there is a solid pool of investors to draw on when the prospectus goes live.’
The launch will take place on Thursday, 11 June, with potential investors asked to ‘pledge’ in-principle support by registering interest for a share.
Investors can also pledge online at s http://farmingthesun.net/