Construction on the first of two solar farms proposed for the Deniliquin district could start as early as mid-2019.
The conservative estimate was provided by RES Australia project development manager Mike Whitbread, who said some planning and design work still needed to be finalised before work could proceed.
Mr Whitbread said for now, only the design and construction steps were being progressed for the Currawarra Solar Farm near Mayrung.
He said once finalised and construction has started, the company would progress through the same steps for Tarleigh Park at Blighty.
Mr Whitbread said while RES Australia had had discussions with Edward River Council about its capacity to provide jobs for staff affected by the Deniliquin Rice Mill closure, he could not guarantee the work would be there when they need it.
‘‘We have had discussions with (general manager) Adam McSwain, but until we have a contractor on board we just don’t know,’’ Mr Whitbread said.
‘‘We are in discussions with a number of EPC (engineering procurement construction) contractors, but until we have a contractor appointed we won’t even know how many jobs we can offer.
‘‘The Finley solar farm is probably a bit ahead of us, and probably the more certain one (to help reassign mill workers) at the moment, but we are still working hard.’’
The $170million ESCO Pacific Finley Solar Farm proposal was approved by the NSW Government in February and is believed to be close to starting construction.
The solar farm — to be built 6km west of Finley — will be about 300ha and comprise about 500000 solar panels, with the ability to produce up to 170MW of power.
The company has estimated 100 jobs will be created in the construction phase alone.
The Currawarra Solar Farm is 25km north-east of Deniliquin at Mayrung.
When fully built it will generate up to 195MW and construction is expected to take 18 months. With 670000 solar panels, it will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of about 79000 NSW homes.
Tarleigh Park Solar Farm is 23km south-east of Deniliquin at Blighty and will generate up to 90MW. Its construction is estimated at 12 months. Its 290000 solar panels will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 37000 households.