Successful solar heating stories told
Financing schemes encouraged by speakers
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: