Construction of the $100 million Collinsville Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project is underway.

Ratch Australia Corporation has a fleet of excavators, bulldozers, graders, cranes, trucks and trenchers currently transforming close to 70 hectares surrounding the old power station to accommodate the installation of 169,000 PV solar panels and more than 550km of cabling over summer 2017-18.

Ratch Construction Manager, Glenn Rice, said that more than 150 people would be busy on site come Christmas as construction on the 42.5 megawatt (MW) project reached its crescendo.

“At present there are around 50 people on site on any given day, including heavy equipment operators, engineers, surveyors, safety and security staff, but we expect to have a peak workforce of 152 once we start installing the solar panels,” Mr Rice said.

“Activity is currently concentrated on civil construction, earthworks and other preparatory activities as well as expanding the existing Ergon substation next to the old power station.”

Mr Rice confirmed Ratch and its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, UGL Limited, had followed through on its promise to ensure participation from local suppliers.

“You’ll see most of the work shirts and heavy machines on site sport the names of local businesses including Collinsville’s Beauchamp Excavating, Bowen’s Hillery Group, Proserpine’s Pyro Dynamics, and Bowen’s Australian Indigenous Security Services,” Mr Rice said.

“The region is well known for the depth of industrial capabilities and skills, plus an understanding of how to deal with local climate conditions is a huge asset.”

The solar farm will deliver in the order of 130,000MWh of renewable energy, which is predicted to meet the annual needs of approximately 15,000 Whitsunday homes over a 20-year period.

The projected completion of the project is June 2018.

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