Friday, 23 September 2011

BLUESKIN ENERGY PROJECT: Open days and community

by Scott Willis

What a wonderful experience, in all our small halls and local
settlements over two weekends in September. Residents and visitors
attended the open days held at Long Beach, Warrington and Waitati to
learn more about the Blueskin Energy Project and contribute thoughts,
ideas and passion. Thank you to everyone for your obvious and keen
interest.

An impressive amount of information has been collected from these
recent open days – people placed stickers on maps indicating their
household location (where they came from), made comments and left
their details, proffered remarks on the banners hanging on the walls,
participated in a straw poll, and all have been invited to fill out
the online survey (at http://www.blueskinpower.co.nz/). The project of
a local wind cluster requires first a robust process enabling
community input. This is what the open days were intended to do – not
sell a project, but increase participation, share information and
enable input.

We are now in the process of analysing and ordering the information
collected, assisted by planners Ros Day and Andrew Henderson.
Information gathered at the open days (and in the online survey) has
several purposes. It will:
1. Help gauge the level and quality of support for the wind cluster proposal;
2. Provide guidance for the next stages of work on the project;
3. Demonstrate gaps in information and further work required; and,
4. Enable evaluation of our efforts to ensure broad participation.

The information will be used in the first instance to enable the
Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust to complete a report on community
engagement for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. That
report, like the 2010 Blueskin Power Feasibility Study, will become a
public document. The engagement report is however only the most
immediate outcome. Information collected will also enable the
development of the next stage in the wind cluster proposal.

While data collection is ongoing, the work in parallel is now to
develop further the best business model to enable the project and
reflect community values. This is by no means a simple task, but it is
one that will be much easier now that we have input from a larger
section of the Blueskin community. Pulling together all the elements
from the open days and survey, while moving further along with the
proposal will take some months.

Early in the New Year we'll hold follow-up public meetings to report
back on how the summary is looking. This stage of the proposal is a
really important stage. Even if you didn't make it to the open days
please take five minutes to fill in the survey that you will find
online at: www.blueskinpower.co.nz/ -- though I'd suggest you take a
look at the displays (also available online) first. If you are not
connected to the internet, phone me on 03 482 2048 during working
hours and I will send you a hard copy of the survey to complete and
mail back.

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