Wednesday, 22 July 2009

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT (column)

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT

by Scott Willis

Photos: Ned, Seth and Alice from Geography downloading data from the
wind tower/weather station, with techie Nigel's assistance. Photos
supplied by the WEP.

Wind Power

Quick reflexes was all that saved an OU Geography lap-top from
oblivion when a strong gust blew it off the top of the box it was
sitting on, on Wednesday 22 July. Seth and Ned, two of the
Geog380 team, along with Masters student Alice Bowden, and Techie
Nigel, were at both Waitati sites to download data. At site one, near
Mopanui, we were picking up gusts at over 9m/s (metres per second) during
the download, and it looks as if there's an average of around 6m/s
over the test period.

Alice will maintain the monitoring of the site while the Geog380 team
will compare data from other monitoring stations. Early results are
looking very good (and the wind was extremely invigorating). When
course commitments are over the Geog380 class will come out to Waitati
to present the full results, so look forward to a windy and eventful
evening in September.

Lindsay Graham of the Renewable Generation Team and I went to both
sites, and we've learned of a couple more potential wind turbine
sites. We also did a drive-by of the end of the old Waitati water pipe
(the micro-hydro initiative), but a key problem around access has
emerged so while we firm up options we'll also be looking at other
sites for micro-hydro. Lindsay has been driving the dispersed
Renewable Generation initiative, and is in discussion with suppliers
of photovoltaics. We've yet to develop an economic model
to make this available to the whole community, though that is the
goal.

In Renewable Generation there are two main goals: building greater
energy security and resilience into the system for our communities,
and establishing an income stream that can be returned to support
community initiatives (ecological and social business). And yes, we'd
like to make lines charges more equitable and reward those who are
efficient. Right now we're working on finding ways to do that.

Further Support

The Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT) has just secured new
funding for an Administration Manager role to support the WEP. This is
an exciting development, and I'm looking forward to WEP making headway
on Renewable Generation in the latter part of 2009. This is further
valuable support from the Otago Community Trust, who have provided key
assistance enabling me to continue to put my energy into this role
and, with the MSD, is 'Taskforce Green' funding.

As always, the Otago Energy Research Centre continues to offer
great support. By the time you read this we'll have had our
'Synergia Workshop' on Renewable Generation, hosted by the BRCT in
Waitati Hall (29th July), facilitated by Paul Stevenson, Synergia
Director, and made possible by the OERC. The idea here is to draw
together a small number of people from the web of local sustainability
networks to work on the challenge of getting a community turbine up
and running. It'll be filmed and documented, and more importantly
we're seeking to develop a coherent path forward to help achieve the
goal of community owned and managed Renewable Generation.

WEP Retrofit Rollout News

Work done within the WEP Retrofit Rollout is still being checked to
ensure installation was done correctly and any faults rectified. It is
anticipated that all checks will be completed soon.

There was a last few weeks' flush of applications to the Rollout, so
the contractors were left with an overhang: too few days and too many
houses still to do. As a result a small number of households who put
in applications missed out on the limited offer. However, Jasmine at
EnergySmart is now able to progressively put those applications into
the new retrofit pile, meaning that all WEP
applications will carry a different code but will automatically be
eligible for the new subsidies (Community Service Card Holders get 60%
off insulation and then $1200 off of a heating appliance if wanted,
while grants for non-community services card holders is 33% up to
$1300 inc GST for insulation and $500 towards a heating appliance).

It has been a real pleasure working with the team at EnergySmart and
Aotea Electrical Southern and we've developed a range of capabilities
around making houses warmer and healthier and more economical to run.
Comments back from Blueskin and Dunedin residents have been
overwhelmingly positive but we know that the task is still not
complete and we're looking at ways of continuing to build community
energy efficiency, and reducing energy demand in sustainable ways.
Even if you missed out on the WEP Retrofit offer, don't hesitate too
long, 60% or any subsidy is well worth it, economically, and in terms
of comfort and health.

Contact the WEP at: waitatienergy@gmail.com, or by calling 4822048.
You'll also find plenty of regularly renewed information on the
website (http://transitiontowns.org.nz/waitati), (including EECA's
link), or by going on the email list.

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Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point), Dunedin, New Zealand.
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