BRCT update – March 2016
In 2006 there was a community workshop in Waitati Hall on ‘Food and Energy’ in the context of climate change. A rough set of goals were written down during an evening of discussion, debate and finally, consensus. We still have those notes on big sheets of paper in the BRCT office and it’s amazing how much has been achieved over the last decade. Two years after that workshop, BRCT was established to provide structure and assistance for community action. BRCT began working on those goals through initally, supporting the Waitati Edible Gardeners, WOO and School Gardens, facilitating a big insulation retrofit project and doing feasibility studies on a number of generation projects. Behind it all was a vision of how we could become a more resilient community, thrive together and adapt to a low carbon economy. Over the years there have been many more projects and an increasing awareness in the wider community about the big issues. 2016 seems like such a promising year with a surprisingly large number of the 2006 goals achieved or in the final stages of completion. However, the world has changed too. Global greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb. It’s clear that some resources are limited and finite. Economic volatility is a result. We live in a riskier environment now. It is now more critical than ever that we strive to work together to live within the limits of our environment and distribute surplus for the benefit of all.
BRCT Home Performance Assessment team at the Valley Project, North East Valley. In the photo (L-R) are: Scott Willis (BRCT Manager), Peter McDonald (BRCT Home Performance Advisor), Kat Achterberg (BRCT Project Coordinator), Beverley Ohline (BRCT Home Performance Advisor), Michael Gaffney (BRCT Home Performance Advisor) and Marty Cancilla (NEV Project Manager). Absent from the photo are John Kaiser and Alex King.
Currently our focus is working in conjunction with our charitiable company Blueskin Energy Ltd on the Blueskin wind farm development. That project is firmly underway and is receiving a great deal of attention. There are a number of other activities we’re working on at present too. They are:
- Home Performance Assessments and energy advice. We’re working closely with the North East Valley project to complete a large number of Home Performance Assessments in NEV, and upgrading our online energy advice;
- Cosy Homes and Climate Safe House project. We are part of the Cosy Homes group, I serve as a Trustee on the board of Cosy Homes Trust and we’re early days of the Climate Safe House project – building a warm and cosy transportable home that will involve a number of partnerships;
- Services. Alongside energy advice, we are providing firewood log deliveries, and Mammoth insulation to order.
The technological advances in the energy sector make the future look exciting. There is a lot happening locally that could lead to a secure community energy supply. A functional Blueskin micro-grid with household to household sales of electricity would mean less power being sold back to energy companies for a pittance. Eventually, it may mean that it’s possible to create a smart energy eco-system for all of Blueskin for the benefit of all. That will involve harnessing our common resources like wind and sunlight, and improving our use of electricity from those resources in warm and cosy homes. It should also allow us to support sustainable transport. But with all these ventures it’s important to get the regulatory framework organsised to make it easier to achieve. That’s partly why we make submissions when the opportunity arises. This past month we’ve made submissions on Electricity Transmission Pricing (to the Electricity Authority) and on the Residential Tenancies Regulations (to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment). Coming up on the ‘Cuppa Tea’ blog is a piece looking at the TPPA in the context of agriculture, by renowned rural sociologist Hugh Campbell.
Our office is located in Waitati at Waitati School, our website is www.brct.org.nz, you can find us on Facebook as Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust, on Twitter as @BlueskinPower and you can call 03 4822249 or call in to visit and find out more about any of our work.
By Scott Willis