An Indigenous Australian corporation in Victoria’s Gippsland region has unveiled plans to build a community solar farm to generate both renewable power and an ongoing income source to bolster health services and employment of the local Aboriginal community.
The Sale-based Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation said this week it was seeking expressions of interest from experienced EPC contractors in developing the 4.9MW solar farm on a 16 hectare farm the corporation owns at Longford, in Gippsland.
Ramahyuck said the call for an EPC partner for the community solar farm had followed a number of detailed feasibility assessments, which had concluded that the project was viable.
Ramahyuck was established in 1992 as a community controlled, member-based health and wellbeing organisation committed to delivering services to Aboriginal families living on the lands of the Gunai Kurnai people. Recently it has been helping to run an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Covid-19 vaccination clinic in Sale.
Its hope is that the small solar farm will provide a range of valuable outcomes for the Corporation and the local Aboriginal community, while also acting as a template for solar farm development for other Indigenous communities throughout Australia.
For Ramahyuck and its local community, electricity sales from the solar farm will be put towards a range of targeted outcomes, including scholarships, job training, and job creation – particularly in key healthcare roles.
Further benefits expected to flow from the project include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and training opportunities in the renewable energy sector, and “Aboriginal self-determination” through control over income stream from investment in Aboriginal owned land.
“Solar farm investors, grant funders and energy customers can highlight the positive Aboriginal community sector outcomes that result from their investment in the Ramahyuck Solar Farm,” a statement said.
“Corporates may find purchasing power from Ramahyuck or other involvement assists with Indigenous procurement and corporate social responsibility objectives.
“Customers will have the ability to highlight the positive impact their power purchasing has on ensuring a healthy, strong and vibrant Aboriginal community.”
Ramahyuck says the project has already built strong relationships across a range of stakeholders from the private sector, local and state government, community groups and others, including a letter of support from network company AusNet.