Suc­cess­ful so­lar heat­ing sto­ries told

Fi­nanc­ing schemes en­cour­aged by speak­ers

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL So­lar fund­ing schemes Har­ness­ing the sun’s en­ergy

Crip­pling power bills may re­sult in a pro­posal to find a backer for a loan scheme to make the in­stal­la­tion of so­lar tech­nol­ogy more af­ford­able for Cen­tral Otago and Queen­stown Lakes peo­ple.

Led by Cen­tral Otago REAP’s sus­tain­able liv­ing pro­gramme MAD4CO, a fo­rum was held at Alexan­dra on Satur­day to dis­cuss adop­tion of en­ergy-ef­fi­cient tech­nolo­gies, which at­tracted speak­ers from many sec­tors of the com­mu­nity.

Fo­rum or­gan­iser Sampsa Ki­uru of Clyde said equip­ment and in­stal­la­tion costs were the great­est hur­dles in es­tab­lish­ing sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies. He pro­posed set­ting up a fund with in­ter­est free loans ‘‘to get peo­ple started’’.

Ac­cord­ing to a New Zealand So­lar Power In­stall­ers quo­ta­tion, a stan­dard three-kilo­watt sys­tem would cost be­tween $10,000 and $15,000 to com­pletely in­stall.

Fo­rum chair­man Cen­tral Otago dis­trict mayor Tony Lep­per sug­gested lo­cal fund­ing agen­cies be ap­proached to back a loan scheme.

He cited a $6 mil­lion starter loan scheme for first-home buy­ers, an af­ford­able hous­ing ven­ture run by the Cen­tral Lakes Trust and the Queen­stown Lakes Com­mu­nity Hous­ing Trust, which started in 2011.

This five year-bond scheme with fixed in­ter­est rates of 5.2 per cent, al­lowed the 20 suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants to re­ceive a $300,000 mort­gage with a $30,000 de­posit, with no penal­ties if home­own­ers opted to exit early. The Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil was un­der­writ­ing the bond and se­cu­rity.

It was ‘‘not out­side the realms of pos­si­bil­ity’’ that the trust could be ap­proached about a sim­i­lar so­lar power loan scheme, Lep­per said.

‘‘Ev­ery month we get a re­minder of how much elec­tric­ity

costs – it’s a big bill.’’

Ter­race School deputy prin­ci­pal Mick En­right said he had spo­ken to the Cen­tral Lakes Trust about es­tab­lish­ing a so­lar en­ergy fund, and was sug­gest­ing a fea­si­bil­ity study be done to find en­ergy-ef­fi­cient so­lu­tions for schools.

Elec­tric­ity would cost the school an es­ti­mated $55,270 this year, with about $34,000 in line charges alone. He es­ti­mated that Cen­tral Otago schools would pay about $1 mil­lion for elec­tric­ity this year.

Green Party list MP Gareth Hughes, who also at­tended the meet­ing, said that New Zealand elec­tric­ity used to be the cheap­est in the world, and now it was the fifth high­est, with power prices ris­ing by 22 per cent in the last six years.

Hughes said the Green party was look­ing at start­ing a fund to fi­nance 30,000 peo­ple into low-cost loans to in­stall so­lar power.

He also men­tioned a $20 mil­lion pack­age to be spread over 500 schools, with the elec­tric­ity sav­ings to be used, for in­stance, on lit­er­acy prob­lems.

A num­ber of speak­ers and

Sus­tain­able liv­ing pro­gramme MAD4CO co-or­di­na­tor Clair Hig­gin­son with guest speak­ers at a com­mu­nity meet­ing about sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies, held at Alexan­dra on Satur­day. Green Party list MPGareth Hughes, left, fo­rum or­gan­iser Sampsa Ki­uru of Clyde, rear, fo­rum chair­man Cen­tral Otago dis­trict mayor Tony Lep­per, Bill Na­gle of Clyde and Paul Dodgshun of Alexan­dra. lo­cals who at­tended the meet­ing shared their ex­pe­ri­ences with sus­tain­able tech­nol­ogy.

Bill Na­gle of Clyde, who had been us­ing so­lar power since 1997, said he and Hawai­ian-born wife Corinne had no re­grets about go­ing ‘‘off-grid’’ be­cause they liked their house to be ‘‘trop­i­cal.’’

How­ever, he ad­vised that peo­ple needed to be ‘‘hands-on’’ about their en­ergy con­sump­tion, to know how much was left in the bat­tery, and be pre­pared to make life­style ad­just­ments, such as only vac­u­um­ing on a sunny day. He also ad­vised frost pro­tec­tion and wiring for 240 vaults.

Nut farmer Paul Dodgshun of Alexan­dra said two years ago he in­stalled a so­lar pho­to­voltaics (or PV) method of gen­er­at­ing elec­tri­cal power by con­vert­ing so­lar ra­di­a­tion into di­rect cur­rent elec­tric­ity.

‘‘We saw this as a way to limit the an­nu­ally in­creas­ing amount of elec­tric­ity needed to ir­ri­gate both the nurs­ery and the grow­ing nut trees and shel­ter belts.’’

Three years ago, his ir­ri­ga­tion costs were $1136 per year. Two years ago, the bill dropped to $224 and this year, to $147.

His five kilo­watt sys­tem cost $16,100 and would have paid for it­self in the next four to five years.

Fo­rum co-or­gan­iser at­mo­spheric sci­en­tist Greg Bodeker of Clyde said find­ings from the meet­ing and in­for­ma­tion about sus­tain­able tech­nol­ogy would be posted on the fo­rum’s web­site: sus­tain­abil­ityat home.wiki­dot.com

Lead­ing the way:

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