Council has voted on a major solar project for the region that could save the region millions.
At their latest meeting on November 20, Council supported the proposed model which includes a solar farm to be built in Mudgee. A site proposed is Mudgee Sewer Treatment Plant.
According to the report, the estimated cost of the project upon completion is $7,862,000 with Council to 'pay it off' over a ten-year period. Council previously applied for a grant for the purchase of batteries for one of the arrays but was unsuccessful.
Councillor Peter Shelley spoke about the initiative at the meeting and said it's a fantastic project that's had Council's support since it was proposed several years ago.
"Obviously with this solar initiative, it's a big investment by ratepayers. But the returns will be phenomenal," Cr Shelley said.
It's estimated that the solar farm will reduce the total cost to ratepayers of electricity by up to $500,00 per annum. A reduction that could be passed on to businesses.
"At the moment ratepayers are spending $1.2 million on electricity per annum. So that's every year, $1.2 million from ratepayers' money is going to electricity."Councillor Peter Shelley
"When you read the report, it doesn't seem that great. With only what? $43,000 extra...$48,000 we save after spending close to $8 million. But that's a bit misleading, well not misleading, it's just written wrong. Basically what's going to happen is that we will save at least $500,00 per year," Cr Shelley said.
"At the moment ratepayers are spending $1.2 million on electricity per annum. So that's every year, $1.2 million from ratepayers' money is going to electricity. What this will do is reduce that down to $700,00. Right, it's not a little bit more. Any excess solar that we do have from this array will be given at a very discounted price to customers within the region..."
"It's just a fantastic idea, it's a great, grand initiative by Council. We're still at the early stages even though a lot of work's been done and I'm looking forward to seeing the end result and switching the switch and getting the solar array going."
Due to their positions on a Joint Regional Planning Panel, Councillors Sam Paine, Paul Cavalier and Russell Holden left the room and were not able to vote.
Councillor Percy Thompson voted against the project and Councillor Esme Martens abstained from voting which is recorded as a 'no' vote.
The above proposed project is unrelated to another series of proposed solar arrays headed up by energy company, ITP Renewables. These are currently being assessed by the NSW Department Planning.
In June 2019, a wave of controversy swept through the region with residents divided on the subject of a series of proposed solar farms. One at Burrundulla just outside of Mudgee and another in Gulgong, proposed for Gulgong on Old Mill Road.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Council voted on two solar arrays. The vote was for a single solar farm to be located in Mudgee.