Eighty-nine households will soon benefit from secure, renewable, and more affordable energy as five community-level energy projects are about to get underway, Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods announced today.
Five solar projects – in WhangÄrei, Tauranga, Palmerston North and Christchurch – are the first to receive funding from the government’s Community Renewable Energy Fund.
“Last year, the Government committed funding to support small-scale community renewable energy projects, to make energy more affordable and resilient for households,” Megan Woods said.
“As we’ve seen through Cyclone Gabrielle, households with small-scale energy generation through solar panels and batteries, were able to keep essential appliances running, when mains power was impacted.
“Budget 2023 last week topped up the funding by another $30 million (on top of $16m in Budget 2022) for the next four years to ensure even more households and communities can benefit from renewable energy and make their power bills cheaper.
“The immediate and most profound effects of these five projects will be the reduction of power bills for residents. The solar energy project at Te Whatumanawa MÄoritanga o Rehua Marae in Åtautahi is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through innovative, small-scale renewable energy projects.
“In 2021, Te Ranga MangÅpere Charitable Trust received $200,000 to install a solar PV system to power four kaumÄtua flats at the marae through the MÄori Housing Renewable Energy Fund.
“In addition to reducing power costs, the on-site solar system promotes energy independence, and the marae can sell any surplus energy back to the national grid. Resilience is also boosted as the central battery system is set up so essential services such as the refrigerator and internet connection will continue to run in a power outage, and unessential appliances will be disconnected.
“The Community Renewable Energy Fund expanded on the successful
MÄori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund (launched in 2020), which produced great results.
“Some projects resulted in power bills dropping by between 30 and 50 percent. This kind of financial relief encourages people to heat their homes to healthier levels or enabling them to buy a heat pump so they can heat their homes more efficiently.
“A key focus now is projects that trial innovative ways of storing and distributing locally generated energy that could help inform larger-scale projects in the future.
“New Zealand needs an electricity system that is more secure and sustainable, and trialling these kinds of initiatives will help get us there,” Megan Woods said.