Tuesday, 22 March 2011

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT column

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT

Hard work has being going into energy options for Blueskin Bay. On 9
March new company Our Wind Ltd (OWL) and the Blueskin Resilient
Communities Trust signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a
model for a community owned wind cluster at Blueskin Bay (see the
front page). One key thing about this agreement is the way in which we
intend all Blueskin communities to be involved. Everywhere around the
country other communities are seeking to start similar projects, and
learning from what we do.

OWL is a New Zealand company with a vision of communities owning their
own electricity generation, and we're the first community that OWL has
signed an agreement with. You may have read about this in the ODT
(http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/151080/community-set-its-own-wind-turbines),
heard about it at the WEP forum on Feb 15th, or read about it in the
last WEP email update. Or, this may be news to you. Whatever the case,
what we now have is the ability to progress the local energy story
that began right back in 2006.

We have to ensure that whatever happens, we maintain the creative and
intelligent community input that has made this project such a symbol
of community action around New Zealand. Contrary to what the ODT
reported, I make no assumption that everyone is behind it or that
there's no opposition. However, what has been achieved so far has been
done with heavy discussion, volunteer input, and one 30 hour a week
salaried position. And since this is a New Zealand first there is no
accepted way of doing things, and we've been able to, and obliged to,
make this happen with much in-kind help and support, and on our own
terms.

Many of you are aware that information on this project is now being
discussed more widely: the 'Energy and Blueskin Bay' mail drop in
December, and the WEP forum in Feb for example. I value all the new
subscribers to the WEP email list and your feedback. Yet because we
now know that for some people this project is new information, we will
have to create a very clear explanation of how it came about, and the
work to date – despite it being old hat to some. We'll be getting into
the detail of how electricity is consumed in our homes, and what the
future might hold. We'll collate and compare the work on options for
household electricity and look at the conditions involved with the
establishment of a community wind cluster. As much as is possible
we'll get into the nitty-gritty of sites, costs per household and
shape of community ownership so as to create the opportunity for
discussion and debate. And we'll be setting out the path ahead over
the next 2 years and seeking broad input into that. It's only at that
point that we'll have a good understanding of how substantial the
support for this project is.

As electricity prices begin to spiral, and national generation assets
(potentially) privatised, I hope the community enthusiasm that kicked
this ambitious project off in the first place can be focussed in a
collective vision to enable us control our energy future and harness
what is all around us. The Memorandum with OWL brings valuable
support, yet what we achieve is up to us.

Feel free to email questions or call about things you'd like to know.
There's also a wealth of documentation at the BRCT office - best time
to visit is after 3pm on Fridays.

Tel: 03 4822048 / email: waitatienergy@gmail.com

--
--
Ā ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō Ū ū
From blueskin.co.nz and 'Blueskin News' published by Blueskin Media:
voluntary/non-profit community publishers in Blueskin Bay (Seacliff,
Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point), Dunedin, New Zealand.
All material sent to or published by us is "copyleft" in the public
domain and may be freely shared, archived, re-edited and republished.
If you want to credit the source it's "blueskin.co.nz".

No comments: