A proposed $32 million solar farm at Wagga has secured a power purchase deal with supermarket giant Coles, helping to boost the project's financial viability and create hundreds of jobs across the region.
Coles announced on Tuesday morning that it had entered into the deal with a proposed solar farm at Windmill Road, Bomen and another $29 million solar farm at Old Sydney Road, Marinna within Junee Shire Council.
Combined with a project in Corowa, the three new solar farms were forecast to create 240 new jobs during construction and 10 ongoing roles.
Coles has described the deal as the "first major Australian retailer to commit to buying renewable energy through a Power Purchase Agreement".
The agreement will see Coles purchase 70 per cent of the output from the three solar locations.
"Coles has been a cornerstone of Australian retail for more than 100 years, and ensuring the sustainability of our business is essential to success in our second century," Coles Group chief executive Steven Cain said.
"We are thrilled that with this agreement, Coles can make a significant contribution to the growth of renewable energy supply in Australia, as well as to the communities we serve".
Construction is now due to start next month on the three solar farms, which will supply 10 per cent of Coles' power demand when the projects are connected to the grid by July next year.
Wagga City Council regional activation director Michael Keys said the deal was an encouraging sign that demonstrated demand for solar power generation in the region.
"There are still plenty of opportunities in the region for sustainable energy and we are ideally located because of our position on the national energy grid," he said.
"More than anything else it's our greatest advantage, that's the connection between South Australia and NSW as well as expansions of the network to cater for the Snowy 2.0 (hydroelectricity scheme).
"We will see other sustainable energy opportunities grow, not just in Wagga but the surrounding region."
The Wagga and Junee projects, which were originally proposed by Terrain Solar, will now be built and operated by UK-based firm Metka EGN.
Metka EGN is ultimately owned by energy and metal manufacturing company Mytilineos Holdings, which is based in Greece and has a market value of about $2.2 billion.
"Terrain Solar is incredibly proud of this landmark agreement that will underpin the construction of three new renewable energy plants in regional NSW" Terrain chairman David Griffin said.
The former Terrain Solar project at Bomen was one of three new solar farms to have been proposed near Wagga and faced a number of challenges during the planning approval phase.
A $188 million solar farm, with a power purchase agreement from the Westpac bank, is being built by Spark Infrastructure near Byrnes Road at Bomen and Green Switch Australia has proposed a $61 million solar farm at Gregadoo.
Terrain Solar took Wagga council to the Land and Environment Court after the Southern Region Planning Panel refused its development application in September.
Eunony Valley Association president Bill Schulz told The Daily Advertiser at the time thatthegroup would "vehemently oppose this DA".
"We're not opposed to renewable energy, we're opposed to the location because it'll cause visual damage and is environmental vandalism," he said.
Terrain Solar won its appeal in January.
Mr Keys said the state's planning system was getting better at handling solar farm applications.
"The concept of solar farms has had some questions around it in terms of community acceptance and support," he said.
"That issue is probably resolving itself over time as people recognise the benefits and appreciate what its actually involved in it.
"The state government is certainly leading that discussion around protecting viable and valuable agricultural land."