Solar farm brings jobs to Collinsville, but for how long?
CONSTRUCTION of the $100 million Collinsville Solar Project will begin in a matter of weeks.
The 42.5 megawatt solar energy farm, which will use about 180,000 solar panels, is close to the old Collinsville coal-fired power station. This will enable it to take advantage of existing electrical infrastructure, including substations and Ergon Energy's distribution network.
It's estimated about 120 contract workers will be employed during construction but once operational the solar farm will employ two permanent staff.
In addition to the permanent staff, up to 20 workers will be needed to clean the solar panels as required.
The project is expected to be operational by June 2018 and produce enough energy to meet the needs of almost 15,000 homes.
News of the construction jobs is music to the ears of Pit Pony Tavern owner Janet Lobegeier.
She said residents of the small mining town welcomed anything and anyone that brought business to Collinsville.
Ms Lobegeier hopes that during the construction phase, workers will support the local economy, which has taken a hit, especially after the cyclone, by renting locally and supporting local supermarkets and businesses.
Collinsville Post Office owner Marissa Cearney is also excited by the jobs, but hopes the workforce will stay in town rather than in out-of-town camps.
"We can't tell people where they have to live, and we can't tell contractors where they have to house people," she said. "They have to look at what's more economical for them.
"As a town we can ask them nicely to support your local business, but in the long run it just comes down to cash... it's all business."
However, Ms Cearney is concerned that once construction is completed that will be the end of the jobs.