Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Northern Districts household insulation retrofits

Waitati Energy Project (Column)

By Scott Willis


Have you heard? The Great Retrofit Rollout is happening! We’ve partnered up with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to undertake a rapid rollout of household insulation retrofits in the Northern Districts from March until the end of June, 2009.


This truly is big news, and will be WEP’s priority focus for the first part of this year. If you haven’t signed up already, get in now! You won’t get a better offer to make your home warmer, healthier and cheaper to heat.


I was invited to Wellington by EECA last month to give a presentation about WEP. It was an incredibly productive day, with all our initiatives receiving a boost, but none more so than the retrofit campaign.


We’ll now be working with EECA to retrofit over 200 priority households in the next few months. ‘Retrofit’ means ceiling insulation; under-floor insulation; polythene ground cover for damp proofing; hot water cylinder wrap; hot water cylinder pipe lagging; door draft excluders and four energy-saving light bulbs. I can’t tell you yet whether there’ll be any funds to assist with replacing dirty fires. EECA will pay 80% of the retrofit costs and households will pay 20%. In terms of real money, we’re talking in the region of a householder contribution of around $400 for a partial retrofit, to about $700 depending on what measures are required and are able to be installed (calculated on a 100m2 house). We are currently seeking ways to give households certainty on cost while ensuring the contractors get paid for work they do, and making this as fair as possible.


The initial notice of this went out on the WEP email list, and we’ve had a fantastic response already. However, we still need more, so spread the word throughout the Northern Districts. We’re compiling a register of interest (email to scott.willis@otago.ac.nz with ‘retrofit rollout’ in the title line), and we need your name, address, telephone, email, and please if you’re comfortable doing so, let us know if you’ve got a Community Services or Super Gold Card or are eligible for one. We have to ensure transparency and accountability, and this register is just a way of ‘fast-tracking’, because we’re doing a rapid rollout – all retrofits will need to be completed by July.


Essentially, we’re focussing on improving household energy efficiency beginning with the hub of Waitati and the broad zone of the Waitati Energy Project (the close Blueskin Bay area, including rural and residential Waitati, Evansdale and Warrington, and the larger Blueskin Bay area including Purakanui, Evansdale again, Seacliff and Karitane). Beyond that, we’re reaching into Waikouaiti to the north and North East Valley (the ‘Transition Valley 473’ area) to the south. This is because it gives our providers clear data – results can be more easily confirmed than if the same amount was spread over a larger area. It is also because with the networks we possess we’re reasonably confident we can make this happen within a short time frame. And finally, it is a lot more efficient for the contractors to work through each village street by street than the broad brush approach, and we’ll therefore get more for the money.


We’re holding the first public meeting Thursday, 5th March, 7.30pm in the Waitati Hall to answer any questions and to really get the ball rolling. Registrations of interest will have to be translated into completed applications and we should see retrofits begin very soon, all going well. Please get in early so we can ensure you don’t miss out!


In other news, we’ve got a Renewable Generation Advisory Team within the WEP now, and there are a number of exciting initiatives that are quietly chugging along, after diverse meetings, discussions and new relationships being established. We’ve begun work on the big Simple Energy Solutions competition and need a couple more dedicated souls to ensure all keeps running smoothly. But most of all, please help us ensure we get really good coverage, particularly of households in need, for the rapid Retrofit Rollout over the next four months.


You can join the email list at the address below, visit the web-pages (http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/waitati) or importantly come to the events publicised here and on the noticeboards. To talk about the Retrofit Rollout by telephone, call either Geraldine (482 2517) or Scott (482 2240), but better yet, come to the public meeting or email (scott.willis@otago.ac.nz).




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