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Carnegie brings in indigenous investors to 10MW solar farm

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Carnegie Clean Energy is set to begin building its 10MW Northam Solar Farm, after the selection of the Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and Perth Noongar Foundation (PNF as co-equity investors in the merchant solar project.

The ASX listed Carnegie said on Tuesday that IBA and PNF had signed a binding term-sheet for a collective 50 per cent ownership of the “battery ready” solar farm, after they were selected from a competitive investment process.

The signing up of IBA and PNF, which will be finalised in the coming weeks, will bring the $17 million project to financial close, paving the way for its construction to begin “in the coming weeks,” Carnegie said.

The solar farm is expected to be completed in the second half of 2018, when it will begin selling power into the Western Australian grid.

The new investment agreement comes just weeks after the company secured $7.5 million in debt finance for the project – a 12-month construction debt finance facility provided by Perth-based private investment group, Asymmetric Credit Partners, with the first draw-down planned for mid-December.

Carnegie’s Northam solar farm, to be built on 25 hectares of “strategically located land” in WA’s wheat belt region, 100km east of Perth, won development approval from the local council in June.

Carnegie said the project co-owners would work with Energy Made Clean and Lendlease to drive Noongar and Aboriginal employment and procurement outcomes in the construction and operation of the project.

The company hopes that Northam will serve as a template for future projects, offering value from multiple revenue streams including electricity sales and renewable energy certificate sales.

“This will be Carnegie’s second solar project that we own and operate and we’re delighted to be working alongside Indigenous Business Australia and the Perth Noongar Foundation as their first investment in renewable energy in WA,” said Carnegie managing director Michael Ottaviano.

“The Northam Solar Project is a great step forward in Carnegie’s strategy of developing a mixture of customer owned projects that generate an immediate return at the completion of construction and self-owned projects that generate an annuity return over the life of the project.”

Indigenous Business Australia CEO Rajiv Viswanathan said the project was an example of the private and public sectors partnering with Indigenous investors to promote impact investment.

“IBA is actively considering other impact investment opportunities, as announced in its recent launch of its Indigenous Investment Partnerships initiative,” Viswanathan said.

Perth Noongar Foundation chairman, Cedric Jacobs, said the indigenous community had a cultural responsibility to “nurture mother earth” for current and future generations.

“The Perth Noongar Foundation is proud to have the opportunity to partner with this project as it offers our people, and the greater community, access to a renewable clean energy which is sustainable and aligns with our cultural values and responsibilities.”  

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