Feb/Mar 2015 News

Hepburn wind, Australia’s first community wind farm, is an inspiration to us here, on the other side of the ditch. Located near Daylesford, north-west of Melbourne, Hepburn is a small wind development comprised of two 2.05MW wind turbines. The turbines were commissioned in 2011, and recently Hepburn wind announced its fourth round of the Hepburn Wind community fund: a fund that uses profits generated from the wind farm to benefit the broader community.

Over the years we’ve had a number of conversations with the Hepburn team, as we prepare the path for the Blueskin wind development. While we don’t enjoy the government grants they had access to in Australia, many of the other aspects of community wind development are the same. And in fact, while our project is unique in New Zealand, in many other countries around the world it is normal for communities to develop and own their own electricity generation and wind developments – it is seen as a democratic right and means to achieve greater local autonomy and assume responsibility for lowering carbon emissions.

2. BEPcolumntowerdownThis past month we’ve been up at the proposed wind development site on Porteous Hill above Blueskin Bay quite a bit. One of the jobs we had to do was dismantle the now redundant 10 metre tower (see inset photo). With the 30 metre tower having been in place for over 2 years now, we have a much more reliable source of data collection and the removal of the 10 metre tower tidies up the proposed site. The effects of the drought are quite evident on the farmland around the site, with dry grass and little growth. Climate change modelling suggests that dryer, windier weather is what we can expect for the east coast of the South Island, which is what we seem to be getting this year. It is not good for farmers, but it certainly is good news for electricity generation!

Meanwhile, household solar installations continue to be in demand around Blueskin, but with additional measures to manage the electricity within the home, including timers and battery storage. Some people are even predicting that ‘conventional’ cars, i.e. those burning fossil fuels, will be obsolete by 2030 because of the rapid growth in electric vehicle technology. In the meantime, electric bike (or E-Bike) numbers continue to rise. All of this portends that 2015 will be a year of significance, whether in terms of community wind, household solar or transport.

We have a busy year ahead of us and we’re working hard to tie up all the loose ends.

To stay in touch with developments, subscribe to our BRCT update or pop into the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048. Go 2015!