By Scott Willis, Project Manager, Blueskin Energy Ltd
The energy policies of all political parties are of interest to us as government policies can either inhibit or support the work we are trying to do. In the last month we’ve been lucky enough to be in contact with most of the big hitters. A visit from Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was the catalyst.
Dr Norman talked in detail about the ‘NZ Power’ proposal and the Greens Solar Homes proposal. In Wellington while at the National Energy Research Institute conference, I spoke with Gareth Hughes (Green Party Energy Spokesperson), David Shearer (Labour Party Energy Spokesperson) and David Clark (our Dunedin North MP) and the manager of ‘Energy Markets Policy, Resources, Energy and Communications’ at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
I also heard from Energy Minister Simon Bridges on the newly established ‘Smart Grids Forum’. Smart Grids should allow householders to use their electricity more efficiently by using their computer to control the use of electricity in their home. If you had PV cells for example, you might decide from your work place to use your computer to turn off the deep freeze for an hour and use the available ‘free’ electricity to do the washing. It seems that whatever ‘flavour’ the new government is in October, energy will remain a significant issue.
There is a great deal of research and industry work going into understanding and developing smarter grids. We’re working on getting a small trial of some smart grid technology up and going later in the year to test the theory and see if it is going to be beneficial to those in the Blueskin area. It looks promising.
Thanks to some wonderful pro bono expertise which has been made available to us we continue to evaluate electricity market options – i.e. options that identify how and to whom we can sell wind-generated electricity.
Meanwhile, Blueskin Energy Ltd (BEL) - the new company created and owned by the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust - is now working hard on an investment plan for the proposed Blueskin wind cluster. That’s a plan that spells out how it will all work financially. The years of work in developing community wind is now finally coming to fruition with the establishment of a development body, but this also signals the next significant stage: capital raising, contracts and legal agreements, all of which must be firmly in place before the first stone is turned. We’re working closely with the Hikurangi Foundation which is providing additional expertise on the financing proposal. The Trust is transferring its intellectual property and sweat equity to the development body, and is looking at its other responsibilities, such as Climate Change Planning, Cosy Homes, and energy advice – but the development of a revenue stream from Blueskin Energy Limited is essential as it will allow BRCT to deliver more back into our communities in the future.
Blueskin Energy work is primarily the Blueskin wind cluster development, but the other energy services and work (Cosy Homes, solar facilitation, community energy advice) do not stop because of the creation of Blueskin Energy Ltd – they remain as part of BRCT’s general work, to manage and resource through 2014 and beyond.
Contact us at www.brct.org.nz or at the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 482 2048. We love to have visitors!
Russel Norman while visiting the Blueskin area