APA dumps RCR as it seeks to complete Darling Downs solar farm

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APA formally terminates collapsed RCR as contractor for Darling Downs solar farm, which is going through final commissioning.

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Listed infrastructure group APA has formally dumped RCR Tomlinson as contractor for its 110MW Darling Downs solar farm in Queensland, following the collapse of the big engineering and contracting group.

The termination, announced on Thursday, was expected after RCR called in voluntary administrators, and amongst the first decisions of McGrathNicol was to close down the solar contracting business. About nine solar projects – in various stages of construction – are believed affected, but this is the first formal notice of termination.

“APA advises that effective today, it has terminated its contract with a subsidiary of RCR Tomlinson Ltd for the turnkey construction of APA’s Darling Downs Solar Farm following appointment of voluntary administrators by RCR on 22 November 2018,” APA said in its statement.

It said that the Darling Downs solar farm, located near Dalby in south-western Queensland, has been built and is currently undergoing commissioning and is generating electricity to ramp up set point limits under its commissioning plan.

According to the Pocket-NEM app, it looks as though Darling Downs solar is permitted to inject around 50MW into the grid. Another test will take place before being allowed to 80 per cent capacity, and then another for full capacity.

Darling Downs solar farm has a 12-year off-take agreement with Origin Energy, the former owner of the project. It is not clear if the project has suffered delays because of the issues with RCR, which has blamed cost over-runs and connection delays at solar projects, including at Daydream and Hayman, for its woes.

McGrathNicol this week won court approval to delay the second creditors meeting until late March, while it works on solutions. It is looking to sell much of the business, but has decided to exit the solar . APA has a long-term offtake agreement with Origin Energy until December 2030.

Commissioning and performance testing of the site is being managed by APA and the commencement of commercial operations is expected in Q1, 2019.

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