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White Rock Wind Farm brings employment opportunities for locals with diverse backgrounds

During the construction of the White Rock Wind Farm Goldwind Australia placed a strong focus on recruiting locals with a diverse range of previous experience from outside the wind energy industry.

White Rock Wind Farm will be one of ten projects opening its gates on Sunday 21 October as part of Wind Farm Open Day.

One of the local staff appointed for the project was Sandra Royal, a local resident and former public servant, who was the local representative for the project during the construction period.

“I’ve worked in many different areas, including community services, child protection and managing grants and applications of funds. That was my first role in the wind energy industry and it’s been exciting and challenging to learn about wind energy and the project” Sandra said.

Sandra worked full time managing information sharing with the local community, arranging all local events and the sponsorship fund, as well as running the local information centre during the project’s construction phase. While the information centre was open more than 7000 people dropped in to learn more about the project, however, Sandra’s role didn’t stop there.

“Often when I’m at the shops or around town, kids recognise me from a presentation I’ve done at a local school and call me the ‘Wind Farm Lady’. It’s a good reflection of what I did in that role - acting as the main conduit between the community and the project. I bring local connection and I know the areas we need to focus on to best share information and benefits, ensuring a relationship based on mutual respect.”

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Sandra Royal outside the White Rock information centre while the project was under construction. Credit: Goldwind Australia.

Since the project has moved into its operational phase, Sandra has also moved on to a new role with Goldwind. She is continuing to work from Glen Innes but is now working as a project controller within Goldwind’s project team for the construction of the Cattle Hill Wind Farm in Tasmania.

Sandra’s office, when she’s not travelling to Tasmania, is now at the wind farm site, alongside the project operations and maintenance team.

The operations and maintenance team, consisting of nine service technicians, two trade assistants, an administrator and a site manager is also mostly made up of staff from the local area.

Sarah White, a local resident and former case manager in community services, initially worked on a temporary basis to provide administrative support during construction and is now engaged permanently as the site office administrator for the operations and maintenance team.

“There’s only a handful of employers in the local area that offer permanent roles at my level so when I heard the project team were looking for staff, I thought it would be a great idea to get on board. My job involves making sure the site office runs smoothly, including everything from processing incoming accounts for payment, ordering and receiving supplies and looking after sub-contractors,” Sarah said.

Despite this being Sarah’s first job in the wind energy industry, she brings a wealth of experience from previous administrative and office management roles. Sarah said that where she brings real value is her knowledge of and existing relationships with contractors and suppliers in the local area.

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Community members attending White Rock Wind Farms open day in 2017. Credit: Goldwind Australia.

Goldwind’s focus on maximising opportunities for local suppliers is a key focus across all projects. The Local Business Participation Program, aimed at identifying capability and capacity in the local area, is currently underway at other Goldwind Australia projects across NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

About White Rock Wind Farm

The $400 million White Rock Wind Farm project is in the Northern Tablelands region of NSW, approximately 20 km west of Glen Innes and 40 km east of Inverell. The 175 MW White Rock Wind Farm powers approximately 105,000 NSW homes each year.

Goldwind retains a 25 per cent interest in White Rock and has partnered with CECEP Wind Power for a 75 per cent investment for construction and operation of the project.

White Rock Wind Farm will be one of ten projects opening its gates on Sunday 21 October as part of Wind Farm Open Day, find out more here.