AGL operate the country’s largest electricity generation portfolio and we’re its largest ASX-listed investor in renewable energy.
We have made significant investments in renewable energy, including the Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants, Australia’s largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants. We are committed to creating a sustainable energy future for Australia.
AGL is currently conducting feasibility studies with a view to submitting a project application for a 300 MW solar plant near Wellington, New South Wales.
As ageing power stations reach the end of their economic life, significant electricity generation capacity is being retired from the National Electricity Market.
This retirement of old power stations will require the development of new, reliable and low-emissions energy supply. Given the high levels of solar irradiance in the central west, the strong transmission network in the region and the declining cost of solar power over the last decade, plants like this one are an important source of new power generation.
AGL is considering the proposed solar plant as part of its commitment to reliably meet the energy needs of the future in a cost effective and sustainable way. In other parts of NSW, we are also considering high efficiency gas plant, grid-scale batteries, and other renewable energy plants to meet these needs.
The proposed solar plant would be located approximately seven kilometres north-east of Wellington, off Goolma Road, and 50 kilometres south-east of Dubbo in the Orana region of NSW. The Plant would be located within the Dubbo Regional Council Local Government Area (LGA).
The proposed plant would provide enough energy to power to approximately 98,000 average NSW homes.
With a number of approved and proposed projects, Wellington is fast becoming a renewable energy hub in New South Wales. As such, the local communities are well aware of the risks and impacts of these projects.
AGL has heard concerns from the community about the impact of our Plant, as well as the combined impact of the surrounding projects. Other community members are keen to understand the economic opportunities for the local and regional community the Plant may bring.
We will continue to work with the local community and interested groups to help us to identify and understand any questions or concerns that need to be addressed if we are to progress with this Plant.
Now is a great time to get involved with AGL’s proposed solar plant as we are in the early stages of planning.
It is important to AGL that community members are involved with the planning and development of the proposed solar plant. We have summarised the NSW Planning Process and opportunities for the community to be informed, involved and collaborate with AGL here.
AGL strives to make a net positive social, economic and environmental contribution to the communities in which we operate and we are very aware that this is only possible if we engage with the community in an open and transparent way.
Wellington Men’s Shed morning tea
On 5 February 2018 Jon (AGL’s Project Manager) and Alex (AGL’s Community Relations Manager) presented to the Men’s Shed introducing them to AGL, the National Electricity Market and Large-Scale Solar, including the proposed Wellington North Solar Plant.
You can view the presentation here.
A couple of the Members are also members in other local groups and have asked AGL to present to them, AGL has accepted this offer. If your community group would like AGL to speak at your next event, morning tea or lunch, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
AGL hosts community drop-in afternoon
AGL hosted a community drop-in afternoon on Tuesday 28 November 2017 to provide interested community members with more information on the proposed Wellington North Solar Plant.
Over a dozen local community members ‘dropped-in’ to the Wellington Civic Centre to find out more about the proposed plant.
Questions that were raised at this event are outlined below in the ‘questions raised by the community’ section. We also asked community members if there were areas in the local community that they would like us to conduct a visual impact assessment from. These suggestions will be passed onto our consultant who will add them to their list of local sites.
Presentation to Dubbo Regional Council Councillors
Our project team recently presented an introduction to the proposed Wellington North Solar Plant to some Councillors from the Dubbo Regional Council.
You can view this presentation here.
Questions raised by the community
Although AGL are in the early stages of planning this plant, we have received some questions from the local community.
In this section, we try to answer community questions and will add to these questions if/when more information becomes available, or if new questions are raised. Please get in touch if you have additional questions.
Q: How many jobs will be created by the plant during construction?
AGL estimates the plant will require approximately 250 full time jobs during its construction phase, similar to the number of construction jobs created for the Nyngan Solar Plant.
Opportunities for local suppliers and employment could include a range of general trade and support services such as:
vegetation management – clearing, mulching, rehabilitation
general civil services – grader, dozer, excavator operators etc.
general construction services
meals and accommodation services
AGL will encourage our partners and contractors to prioritise local suppliers in the tender of packages of work for the plant where suitable commercially competitive local suppliers exist.
Q: How long will the construction period last for?
We expect the construction period to last for approximately 18 months.
Q: How many jobs will be created by the plant during operation?
AGL anticipates that the plant will create a small number of new full time jobs once the plant is operational.
There will also be a range of service jobs such as vegetation management, electrical service and maintenance which would be contracted on an as needed basis during the operational phase. It is AGL’s preference to prioritise local employment if there are suitable candidates for these jobs.
Q: Has AGL contacted neighbours?
AGL has letterbox dropped a number of our closest neighbours. If we have missed you, please contact us to let us know.
Q: What has the land traditionally been used for?
The property has traditionally been used for agricultural purposes, including grazing and cropping.
Q: Will there be opportunities for agricultural use on the property?
AGL are currently considering if sheep will be able to graze in and around the solar panels. Our experience in Nyngan taught us that the panels should be a certain height so that sheep don’t break the panels, so we are factoring that learning into our considerations.
Q: How much land is the proposed solar plant on?
The proposed solar plant would occupy approximately 700 hectares of land.
Q: Will the whole site be covered in solar panels?
The AGL site is bout 950 hectares in total. We anticipate that approximately 75% of it will be suitable for solar panels (so we expect around 700 hectares of land would be covered by panels).
During our planning and design phases we will be able to assess in more detail what land is suitable for panels. Some land may not be suitable if it is on a steep incline or is constrained by environmental conditions.
Q: What sort of community investment programs does AGL have?
AGL has a variety of community investment programs at all our operational sites. These programs are developed in consultation with the community and include local sponsorships as well as grants programs.
AGL usually begins these programs once the plant has been approved and construction commences.
Q: How will AGL engage with the community?
Continuous engagement with the local community is important. We have found that the Wellington community prefers face-to-face meetings and letterbox drop updates.
While the Plant is in its early stages, we will continue to regularly engage with the community on updates to the Plant. We held a drop-in afternoon in November and will be hosting a bus trip to the Nyngan Solar Plant in early 2018.
Q: Can AGL hide the panels?
The aim of the plant is to attract as much sunlight as possible to generate as much energy as possible and so planting trees along the boundary of the site does not always work.
AGL acknowledges that community members may have differing views on whether or not they like the look of a solar plant and are interested in hearing the community’s thoughts about the visibility of the plant.
Q: When will this happen?
AGL is currently in the early stages of plant planning and is undertaking environmental studies. We expect to submit our Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in early 2018 – around February/March.
Q: What will the plant cost?
AGL estimates the plant will cost up to $400 million to construct. This will be dependent on the final configuration of the plant following planning and community consultation.
24-hour Feedback and Complaints Hotline: 1800 039 600
Banner image: Nyngan Solar Plant, owned by the Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF), image courtesy of PARF.