Sep/Oct 2015 News
Blueskin Energy Project Update Oct 2015
In Blueskin Bay we are working on a project to build the first large scale renewable generation facility within Dunedin city boundary in over 100 years. The last one was the Waipori Power Scheme for hydro electricity. Waipori is still generating electricity to this day.
I have been reviewing the community participation in the project as we work on legal permissions to build, and I’ve been reminded of the depth of engagement and participation by the community and surprised too, as I had forgotten some of the work, buried as we have been in the here and now.
Back in 2008, before the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust was actually established, a study was done on “attitudes to community owned wind energy in Waitati” (titled “Is Small Beautiful?”) and concluded that “residents have generally been found to be supportive of wind energy, particularly at the local level”. A feasibility study was completed on a wind project for all of Blueskin in 2009-2010, and over the summer of 2010-2011 research was done on “Community perspectives on the BRCT energy project”. What that research threw up was not just strong support for the wind project, but that some members of the Blueskin community, particularly in and around Long Beach, Purakaunui and Osbourne, weren’t aware of the project or hadn’t heard of it. (It also revealed the importance of local media, such as the Blueskin News and the Rothesay News).
Later in 2011 a formal community engagement process began, published in 2012 as “Blueskin People Power: A tool-kit for community engagement”. It involved in-depth surveys, and open days in Long Beach, Waitati and Warrington. In November 2012 there were again community meetings on the project in Long Beach, Waitati and Warrington to help make a decision on the way the development should proceed: “cooperative or company?” was discussed and debated. And in October 2013, a visiting researcher conducted a mini research project titled “Opinions on the Blueskin Wind Project” targeting people who had not participated in early discussions.
It is deeply reassuring to read through all this research, which adds to the feedback we receive as we work on this long-term project, and has helped shape strategic decisions. And when I say ‘large scale generation project’ that only references scale of generation within city boundaries. In terms of wind development, the project we’re working on is very small, but suitable for the scale of our community.
And if anything reinforced the value of our community development project to me recently, it was the visit to Bluff at the opening of the Flat Hill wind farm at Bluff on the 31st of August. Owned by Pioneer Generation, this newest New Zealand wind farm will generate more renewable electricity and generate benefits that return to the community via the Central Lakes Trust, owners of Pioneer. We aim to do the same here in Blueskin.
To stay in touch with developments, subscribe to our BRCT update via our website: www.brct.org.nz or pop into the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048.