Jemalong solar project powers on with jobs for locals

The Jemalong solar site is an absolute hive of activity with 152,000 panels being installed in preparation for connection to the electricity grid next year.

The 50MW solar farm is being built by Beon Energy Solutions for Genex Power Limited, a publicly listed Australian company with a focus on renewable energy generation and storage.

Representatives from Forbes Shire Council visited the site this week witnessing part of the construction phase and meeting with locals working on the project.

Beon Energy Solutions Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Justin Coburn, said so far 151 jobs had been created.

Of the 83 mechanical labourers working at Jemalong, 66 are from Forbes, Parkes and surrounding communities. Thirty six were previously unemployed.

"We have 33 women employed on this project and that's well above industry standard for a solar farm of this size," Mr Coburn said.

"We're really proud of the opportunities the Women in Solar program is providing for many people in regional communities, particularly those who have been out of work but are keen to learn and are willing to grow their skills."

There are seven women who have signed up under the Women in Solar program, which has been jointly delivered by Beon Energy Solutions and the labour hire company, Chandler Macleod.

The program provides pre-employment training - through Forbes TAFE - and employment opportunities for women, many who have been out of the workforce for a long period. (More on the program on page 3).

It has been funded under the Federal Government's Launch into Work program.

Among the participants are Tracey Trainor, 39, a mother of eight, who was eager to get back into the workforce.

"It has been really hard to get much of an opportunity after being out of work for so long, so Women in Solar has been amazing for me," Ms Tracey Trainor said.

For Lynette Toomey, the Women in Solar program gave her a chance to try something new.

"I've been unemployed for the last five months and I'm so thankful that someone has looked past my age and given me a go," Ms Toomey said.

When operational, the Jemalong plant will produce 128,700MWh of electricity a year, enough to power 23,000 homes.

The panels, which track the sun from east to west each day, are currently being installed.

Information provided by Beon explains the project has so far injected more than $3 million into the local community, including wages paid to locals and the engagement of more than 28 different local businesses.

On top of that a further $6 million has been spent on engaging 53 businesses from other parts of NSW.