Background

As the owner of a motel in Tropical North Queensland, our client had experienced first hand the significant impact of the intermittent power supply on small business and local economies. It was an issue that extended as far as the Gulf of Carpentaria. Our client’s vision was to develop a solar power station for the region.

At the time of engaging DLA Partners, our client had applied for federal government funding of $8.5M that was conditional upon the completion of specific milestones relating to land ownership, leasing premises and commencement of construction. All this was to be achieved within stringent timeframes. Our client knew he would need help to establish relationships with multiple and diverse stakeholders, seek significant investment and handle all aspects of accounting and financial management.

 

Overview

It was clear that for this unique and ambitious venture to be successful, our client would require advice from a specialised and experienced professional ‘team’. This team would comprise talented professionals with far-ranging capabilities and the capacity to project manage a complex, multi-faceted and long-term project from A to Z.

The team’s duties would include facilitating introductions to relevant state government ministers and executives; clear and concise articulation and communication of our client’s vision to a range of audiences; securing major investment to match the promised federal funding; timely establishment of suitable business structures; management of taxation, accounting and financial matters including daily cash flow; and the skilled and prolonged coordination of a broad range of stakeholders based all over Australia.

The communication of project outcomes and knowledge sharing for the benefit of communities across the nation would also be a key requirement.

DLA Partners drew on over 30 years of leadership, expertise and experience in complementary specialisations to bring this immense project to fruition. Technical adeptness aside, our team approach would involve the highly developed ‘soft’ skills that commonly include innovation, initiative and ‘thinking-on-your-feet’ problem solving. Clearly, these would all be necessary for achieving the outcomes required for a largely unknown, untested and unprecedented project such as this.

Process

In a project involving so many diverse interest groups, establishing and maintaining trusting and positive relationships was extremely important. We met with stakeholders from all levels of government, the ATO and investment sources, surveyors, town planners, engineering professionals, consultants from legal firms and energy companies, joint venture construction partners, local interest groups and residents of the local community.

For each group, we introduced and explored our client’s vision, appropriately explaining how the vision would meet each group’s requirements while acknowledging their priorities and addressing their concerns.

We regularly brought key stakeholders together to consult, share information for planning and strategy and, later, for implementing agreed actions.

Our use of structured timelines and transparent action plans ensured smooth progression through the project’s lifespan. Progress was clearly documented and shared.

Our client had full confidence in our abilities and our commitment to the success of the project, and allowed us the autonomy to work directly with the key stakeholders, joint venture partners and other professional advisors.

As the single point of contact, we worked efficiently and effectively, easily providing our client with comprehensive daily summaries of progress.

Our financial management included our recommendation for and then obtaining of a tax ruling prior to the company set up and arrival of funding. This proved a critical outcome that allowed our client to avoid dramatic consequences for cash flow that would have impacted the project most severely.

Outcomes

Engaging DLA Partners and our professional project management team enabled our client and his business partner to focus their energy on site, take care of essential day-to-day project administration and build critical relationships within the local community and its surrounds.

On completion, the solar farm will represent the collaboration of significant and diverse stakeholders, each with specific financial and funding compliance obligations that needed to be managed and met. Among them are state and federal governments, leading energy specialists and investors. DLA Partners, as our client’s representative, was the ‘hub of the wheel’ that enabled this ambitious project to be brought to fruition.

DLA Partners is now consulting for a further five projects of similar type and scale.

This is what our client had to say…

“In small business, there’s a tendency to be the jack of all trades and manage everything yourself. But we believe that you need to part of a team of skilled people if you want to succeed. Once our project reached a certain size and level of complexity, we asked DLA Partners to be involved.

 

We knew that David [Leddy] and Terry [Edwards] had the knowledge and experience we needed to manage all the complicated financial and accounting aspects of setting up the business, including coordinating the many stakeholders.

 

We trust DLA Partners. We all get along well and we know that we can call them for help at any time. We have also referred them to a number of individuals and businesses we know.”

 

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