The Acting-Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, inspected the progress of the $600 million Sapphire Wind Farm which is under construction near Glen Innes.
He also helped turn the sod at White Rock Solar Form on Monday.
The wind farm, which is aimed to be a 270 MW capacity station, is the biggest in the New England region. It began construction in January and is expected to be completed in July 2018.
Mr Joyce said he was particularly pleased with the local involvement with the project.
“Throughout the construction process the builder CWP Renewables has provided 200 full-time jobs during construction, all staying in the Glen Innes and Inverell communities spending approximately $600,000 in these communities each month,” he said.
“At least 30 of these jobs are held by Glen Innes and Inverell locals who are directly employed on site. During the operations phase 20 full-time jobs will be filled by locals, which is excellent news for these communities.
“This project along with other similar projects in the region make the New England area the leader in renewable energy production and export, and will help Australia reach its renewable energy targets,” Mr Joyce said.
Mr Joyce added as part of the construction’s $600 million budget, around $15 million was spent in the New England and $2 million has been paid per annum as local landowner payments.
He said that combined with the $400 million White Rock Wind Farm and the $41.4 million White Rock Solar Farm, the Sapphire Wind Farm brings the investment in renewable energy generation in the Glen Innes and Inverell areas to more than $1 billion.
“At 270MW and with 200m tip height wind turbine generators, the Sapphire project will be the tallest wind farm in Australia and the largest in terms of capacity in NSW; delivering power to over 115,000 homes across the New England,” head of development for CWP Renewables Ed Mounsey said.
“Together with other committed and proposed renewable energy projects in the region, the Sapphire Wind Farm project is leading the charge towards making the New England area a net energy exporter,” he said.
“We recognise and welcome the support the Deputy Prime Minister has given the Sapphire Wind Farm project and the resultant jobs this has brought to the New England.”