November 2014 News

12. BEPcolumn Dec 2014 IPCC The International Panel on Climate Change synthesis report was released on November 2nd by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who offered a stark message: “Time is not on our side…leaders must act”, while insisting that the “good news is that if we act now, we have the means to build a more sustainable world”. All around the world, organisations, universities and people are divesting from investment in fossil fuel companies. Meanwhile in our own city the Econonic Development Strategy calls for an accelerated decarbonisation of the local economy and the Energy Plan in development is aiming for a low carbon pathway. Here in Blueskin work continues on building our own clean energy system via wind and solar, providing advice and assistance to families wanting to make their homes more energy productive, and planning for the future. Many organisations and groups besides BRCT are doing many great things that all contribute to building a more sustainable community as well, and we all locally need to pull together even more than ever now.

When Contact and Meridian, the most ‘solar friendly’ electricity retailers, recently slashed rates for solar buy-back, many people were understandably unhappy. After all, when you have invested thousands of dollars in putting solar panels on your roof, it is nice to have some certainty about the value of your investment, and in May 2013 Meridian had declared it was “committed to supporting solar”.

These retail companies are probably doing something that is economically rational from their standpoint – they’re trying to ensure that the market remains profitable for them. It appears that the signal they want to send to the market is that solar PV, which has been having a ‘dampening’ effect on power prices, can be contained by reducing the ‘buy back’ rate for the electricity solar PV cells produce. They possibly hope that the strengthening global price for aluminium (upon which rests Rio Tinto’s Tiwai Point aluminium smelter’s profitability), and through this slashing of the ‘buy back’ rate for solar generated electricity, that they will give their investors confidence in future pricing and the company’s long term profitability. Ironically there is an upside for us. This is likely to be a good thing for our wind development, as rising wholesale electricity prices help our business case, even while it hurts many of us who have invested in photo voltaic solar panels, and those of us who already struggle with power bills.

Our wind development is of course designed to provide a profit which will benefit the community and ensure greater energy resilience, through putting predicted profits to work in a number of ways. Some possibilities might include: Home Performance Assessments, solar subsidies, and further Cosy Homes flash mobs. We’re on path to get there, but this is a long-term project, not an overnight one. Meanwhile, we’re now looking closer at solar, and how we can ensure the fantastic uptake in solar PV in Blueskin can be best managed at a household level to dampen the negative effect of a lowered buy-back price.

To stay in touch with developments, subscribe to our BRCT update (you will be taken to the subscribe page of our 'Blueskin Energy Project', as we are in the process of moving this across to this site) or pop into the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048. We love to have visitors!