August 2013 News

2013 08 23 14.27.52 James ShawI’ve valued visiting people to discuss the project recently and taking people up to the site (see inset photo of James Shaw from the Hikurangi Foundation). While we know the Porteous Hill site already has very strong community approval, it’s also a good time for a refresher on the project. Blueskin residents (at Long Beach, Purakaunui, Osborne, Waitati, Doctors Point, Evansdale, Merton, Warrington, Seacliff and surrounds) receive electricity from the local grid, distributed from the substation at Waitati. The Waitati Substation is at the end of a local network that runs down from a National Grid out-take at Palmerston, and there are other substations moderating electricity flows all the way back up to Palmerston. Any electricity generated within this local grid will be used by those closest to the nearest controlling substation – in this case Waitati substation. We anticipate that the proposed wind development on Porteous Hill will provide the rough annual equivalent of the current annual electricity demand by Blueskin residents (1000 households). In reality, some days there won’t be much electricity generated, some days there’ll be plenty and it will go further up the line to other substations for distribution. Generation is different from distribution and retail. This generation project will make no difference to current retail agreements – we can’t change that at this time. But it will provide local electricity (supported by the rest of the grid to give security of supply). Local wind generation is the start of the journey towards greater energy security, and we’re already beginning to see a small number of solar installations as well. Over time, as we improve our homes for energy productivity (warm and cosy, cheap to power), boost generation, and install electricity and energy storage we will achieve energy security and ensure resilience.

The big issues in the wind at present are: the government's $30 million subsidy to Australian company Rio Tinto to maintain the Bluff smelter open until 2017 (at the same time as Rio Tinto posted a NZ$2.12b half year profit); the proposed October sale of (currently state owned) Meridian Energy and; the Greens/Labour "NZ Power" policy which proposes a central state buyer and price setter for electricity generators to control electricity prices for consumers. All of these national level issues colour the background environment, but do not change the fundamental climate for community energy. Make no mistake, building our own community generation is not for the faint-hearted, and in fact we know now almost all we need to do to make a success of our generation project as the expert appraisals come in. BRCT had a good meeting recently with OtagoNet (local network owners) to talk through this project. Detailed discussions are being held with the Porteous Hill landowners as we get close to committing important investment to the project and to meet their needs. We were also invited to look at two other promising wind generation locations.

Solarcity reports that to date they’ve had 5 enquiries with the “BS1” (a negotiated Blueskin deal) code, with one installation underway, one changed mind and 3 quotes provided. We know of 4 independent installations in process as well. Researchers from the ‘Energy Cultures’ team at Otago are working with a small number of intending solar households in Waitati to monitor electricity demand in details to help model optimal systems. Energy enquiries continue to come in and on top of all this, we have been crazy busy organising a Dunedin wide “Cosy Homes workshop” for September.

Visit us at the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048 and for any information about the solar project email solar@blueskinpower.co.nz.

By Scott Willis