Up to 76,000 jobs could be created across the state if renewable energy projects are fast-tracked, according to a study released this week by the Climate Council.
The jobs include up to 200 construction and up to 10 permanent positions with Riverina Water, should the company's two-hectare solar farm and battery project receive its funding targets to get off the ground.
Committee 4 Wagga CEO Alan Johnston sees the strategy as injecting "initial dollars into our economy", and said he hopes the Riverina Water project will put local hands to work.
"If we have the bodies and the skills to do it, we'd love to see local workers get the jobs," Mr Johnston said.
"Boosting the local job market with locally-sourced employment is what we look for."
In conversation with The Daily Advertiser yesterday, Riverina Water director of engineering Bede Spannagle said every effort would be made to "keep the jobs local".
"If we employ our own customers - and anyone who uses water in the Riverina is indirectly our customer - we keep the money flowing locally," Mr Spannagle said.
But with a few hurdles still to be cleared at the funding level, the shovel-ready construction date for the project is still ways off.
Mr Spannagle said, if all goes well, the planning and design stage will be completed by the end of this financial year, with construction to begin shortly after.
The Climate Council's Clean Jobs Plan identified the Riverina Water project as one to be expediated if possible, to kickstart the economy from its COVID-19 induced slump.
Across 12 policy opportunities, the Climate Council identified up to 25,000 job openings that could be made available in NSW alone, primarily in the renewable energy fields, "deliberately targeted to regions and occupations hit hardest by job losses".
Retired agricultural scientist and Brucedale resident Dr Gordon Murray welcomed the strategy, but reiterated the need for appropriate land use to be mandated ahead of construction.
"Solar farms can still be grazing areas, in fact that controls the growth under the panels very well," Dr Murray said.
"You can't crop around the panels, but you can easily graze there. So that needs to be a consideration."
Praising Riverina Water for their renewable plans, Dr Murray said it was his hope the project would encourage other businesses to consider renewable investments.
"I think we'll see a lot of large businesses doing things like this, or like what the City of Sydney has done in contracting energy from the Riverina," he said.
In particular, Dr Murray said he was hoping many of the Climate Council's clean jobs would be created via small-scale energy providers.
"At the moment we are reliant on transmission power and if a storm forces that out, like the one in South Australia not too many years ago, we're facing big problems," he said.
"Locally generated power like the Riverina Water system will be more secure."
In order to generate the wide-scale job opportunities via the small plants, Dr Murray said there would need to be many projects set up statewide.
"The number of employees is small per unit, but if you have many small units, you have stable employment which is very important in country areas," he said.
Former environmental scientist and Greater Hume farmer Jim Perrett has spent years fighting to block the development of large-scale solar projects.
But, he told The Daily Advertiser he was prepared to back the Riverina Water plan to get off the ground because it is only expected to take up two-hectares of land.
"This Wagga one is commendable if it's kept small and doesn't impinge on anyone too much," he said.
"These large scale solar farms take up good land. If people in the city want solar power, why should it be at the expense of country land?"
Though, Mr Perrett did question the availability of a battery that would be large enough to store energy during extended periods without sunlight.
"It's been two of the foggiest months I've seen, there's not a lot of sun down this way over winter," Mr Perrett said.
"The storage in these batteries doesn't last too long after it's captured, you just can't build a battery big enough to store what you need long term."
While the exact site of the Riverina Water project is yet to be determined, opponents to large-scale solar farms are hopeful the state's investment in renewable energy will be well-placed.
Eunony Valley Association member Peter Fawcett said the success of the venture will come down to "location, location, location".
"If it's in an area that doesn't affect people with glare and water run-off, we're not against it at all," Mr Fawcett said.
"It just has to be set up in appropriate places. Renewables are good but they have to be in the right places to benefit everyone."