BRIGHT IDEA: A large solar farm like the Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm, pictured, is slated for a property at Isis River.
BRIGHT IDEA: A large solar farm like the Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm, pictured, is slated for a property at Isis River. Contributed

Childers solar farm on the hunt for contractors

THE developers behind a massive solar farm slated for a Childers property are on the hunt for construction contractors and say they will use local labour wherever possible.

"We've obtained planning approval just before Christmas and we're now well and truly in the pre-construction phase,” Esco Pacific development manager Allison Hawke told the NewsMail.

"We will be engaging a lead construction contractor and arranging a financial platform to engage towards construction.”

It will be a few busy months of negotiating contracts and doing a due diligence before the construction gets underway, Ms Hawke said.

"We're hoping to have identified our preferred contractor by June or July,” she said.

"From there on in, it's meeting the permit conditions and detailed design over two months before we start.

"Assuming we reach financial close before July, it would be another three months - beginning early Q4 or late in Q3.”

Ms Hawke and Esco Pacific managing director Steve Rademaker will be visiting the region next week to discuss the economic opportunities for Bundaberg and Childers, including meetings with Bundaberg Regional Council and the Childers Chamber of Commerce.

Asked if local contractors would be used in the construction, Ms Hawke said "absolutely”.

"It's something we write into the tender documents and scope documents for the construction contract - there is a mandate on the contractor to source (workers) locally wherever reasonable.” she said.

This process was already underway at another of Esco's solar farm sites in at Ross River near Townsville, where the successful contractor "is busy working with local chamber of commerce, putting ads in the paper to subcontract for the local region”.

The $210 million, 80mw farm at Isis River, with 400,000 solar panels spread over a 180ha property, will create enough energy to power 30,000 homes.

The Childers project and one at Susan River on the Fraser Coast represented a combined $300m investment in the local economy, Ms Hawke said.

"Both will create over 100 jobs for construction each and involve about five full time and 10 part time jobs over their 40-year life span, from panel cleaning to landscaping and electricians.”

Through the construction process local subcontractors might include civil companies, welders, electricians, project managers and haulage, she said.

Ms Hawke and Mr Rademaker will be guests at the Childers Chamber of Commerce breakfast on June 6, from 6.30am at the Isis Club, Childers.