Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Waitati Energy Project Column

This month the big event is the Waitati Energy Expo. We're looking
forward to seeing what comes out of the woodwork for the Energy
Efficiency and Innovation Competition. Get thinking and get it
entered! We're also looking forward to seeing what's available in the
commercial and professional presentations: contrary to what you might
believe, we don't 'swim' in energy efficient ideas everyday so it's
good to have the opportunity to find a whole lot of things together in
one space, and also the sparks of ideas that jump about when all these
people are together.

We've got a great range of speakers lined up throughout the day on
diverse topics. The Waitati PTA is putting on food and drink to keep
us fed and watered and there will be entertainment of all sorts (the
list just keeps on growing!). We haven't got everything yet, so if you
have an idea or suggestion then let us know. But bring yourselves,
bring your family and bring your friends, and make it a great Waitati
Energy Event on Sunday the 10th!

Remember the Home Energy Rating Scheme audits? They were donated by
the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority to the Waitati Energy
Project. Well that story has become a little complicated. It appears
Bob Draper, the auditor contracted by EECA, resigned just as the
period for the audits was to come due, while the EECA audit funding is
rumoured to have had a time-limit on it. So the audits may not
necessarily be rolled over and at present we are left with two
completed audits out of the total of 21 we were accorded, and a series
of general recommendations. Bob made recommendations following all the
visits he made, and these were to become fully-blown HERS audits. I am
still trying to get to the bottom of all this, as there have been
personnel changes in EECA as well, and no doubt there will be an
update in the next edition of the BN. We certainly appreciate the work
put in so far. However, the possible loss of all those audits . . . .
Nevertheless, it is making one student's life more interesting: Jess
Hughes has been researching the design of the HERS audits, so we'll
have her report to look forward to.

There's more research going on and two bits I will mention briefly
here. The big one is a whole Waitati 'Baseline Energy Survey', funded
and run by the Otago Energy Research Centre. This will evaluate
exactly where we are (in terms of energy) right now. The details of
that are being worked out as I write, but expect to be contacted in
one form or another and asked to take part. The survey will provide us
with valuable information on the Energy needs, forms and use in our
community, and from this we'll be able to shape future actions and
projects, so the more accurate information we can provide, the sharper
our focus can be. The other research you may have heard about is being
conducted by Matthew Hoffman, a student in the OERC. Matthew is
conducting a survey in Waitati on attitudes to small-scale wind
energy. Part of his motivation is the 'Get Smart, Think Small' report
from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (independent
of the Government) that promotes the adoption of local energy systems
and recommends that community-led initiatives could be aided by
government targets and incentives (something to think about when
politicians come door-knocking). Matthew's research will give us
insight into the depth of opinion in Waitati on small-scale wind and
help gauge receptiveness to the idea, were we ever to go down this
path as a community.

That's more than enough from me for now. Keep warm and make sure you
come along on Sunday 10 August. You can contact me and join the WEP
list by calling 4822249 or emailing: scott.willis@otago.ac.nz

by Scott Willis

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