As well as providing power for Coles operations, the photovoltaic solar plants - to be operated by Metka EGN outside the regional centres of Wagga Wagga, Corowa and Junee - will supply more than 220 gigawatt hours of electricity into the national electricity grid.
Construction is scheduled to begin in September and the plants are expected to commence supplying power to the grid in July 2020.
Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the increased use of renewable energy was a major part of the company’s commitment to be the most sustainable supermarket in Australia.
“Coles has been a cornerstone of Australian retail for more than 100 years, and ensuring the sustainability of our business is essential to success in our second century,” he said.
“We have already made changes throughout our business to use energy more efficiently, which has enabled us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 4 per cent over the past financial year and more than 30 per cent since 2009, despite growing our store network.
“Over the past two financial years alone we have invested more than $40 million in energy efficiency measures including upgrading all store lighting to LED by the end of 2019 and the installation of solar panels on 30 stores.”
Coles Chief Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve said Coles was the first major Australian retailer to commit to buying renewable energy through a power purchase agreement.
“Agreements like this are crucial to growing renewable generation capacity in Australia because they give the developers the certainty they need to invest,” he said.
Keeve said that, as well as supporting large-scale generation projects, Coles is working with property partners to increase on-site generation of renewable power at stores and distribution centres.
“We plan to install solar panels on another 38 stores this financial year and we will be working with our landlords and property developers to identify further locations suitable for on-site solar power generation.”
The projects announced on Tuesday by Coles were developed by Australian renewable energy developer Terrain Solar, with the support of advisory firm PwC, as part of a portfolio of renewable generation plants. Metka EGN acquired the portfolio earlier this year and will build, operate and own the plants.
“Terrain Solar is incredibly proud of this landmark agreement that will underpin the construction of three new renewable energy plants in regional New South Wales” said Terrain chairman David Griffin.
The new solar plants are expected to support more than 250 jobs in regional NSW, including over 240 during construction and 10 ongoing roles.