Friends form so­lar en­ergy co-op

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KARINA ABADIA

The de­sire to switch to a sus­tain­able form of en­ergy in­spired three friends.

Chris Ol­son and John Gorman of Pon­sonby and Philip Court of St Johns are launch­ing their co­op­er­a­tive En­er­gyshare and in­vite oth­ers to join. They share busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence in the elec­tric­ity and en­gi­neer­ing sec­tors.

‘‘We wanted to cre­ate a change in society in terms of the use of more re­new­able en­ergy and less fos­sil fuel-based en­ergy,’’ Court says.

Us­ing so­lar en­ergy is be­com­ing cheaper but the cost of in­stalling the pan­els is still a bar­rier for many, Gorman says.

The na­tion­wide co-op­er­a­tive will in­vest in com­mu­nity projects in or­der to pur­chase so­lar pan­els which it will give to its mem­bers on a lease-to-own ba­sis over a 17-year pe­riod.

Be­cause it’s a co-op­er­a­tive it is not look­ing for the cheap­est hard­ware but the best hard­ware for ev­ery­body, Gorman says.

The pan­els have a 25-year life ex­pectancy and vary in size de­pend­ing on the fam­ily size and whether they are for res­i­den­tial or com­mer­cial use, he says.

There are sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives in the US but mem­bers are just leas­ing the pan­els, Court says.

The co-op­er­a­tive makes ev­ery­one who signs up a stake­holder in the com­pany.

Mem­ber­ship will cost about $350. It won’t be paid as a lump sum but rather as a monthly de­duc­tion of around $10, En­er­gyshare man­ager Chris Ol­son says.

The cost of mem­ber­ship and the leas­ing fee will be roughly equiv­a­lent to what a mem­ber’s power would cost if you didn’t join, Court says.

‘‘To start with you will prob­a­bly be pay­ing a lit­tle bit of a pre­mium but one or two years down the track, it will be cheaper [than the prices set by other elec­tric­ity com­pa­nies].’’

An in­for­ma­tion evening is be­ing held tonight at Free­man’s Bay Com­mu­nity Hall, 52 Hep­burn St from 6:30pm till 9:30pm.

Tick­ets are $15 plus book­ing fee. Go to eventbrite.co.nz.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch a video ex­plain­ing the ideas be­hind En­er­gyshare. Clean fo­cus: Chris Ol­son, John Gorman and Philip Court have come up with a way for res­i­dents to ac­cess re­new­able en­ergy.

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