Five community energy projects kick start

Energy and Resources

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 Whangārei, 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 Māoritanga o Rehua Marae in Ōtautahi is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through innovative, small-scale renewable energy projects. 

 “In 2021, Te Ranga Mangōpere Charitable Trust received $200,000 to install a solar PV system to power four kaumātua flats at the marae through the Māori 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 Māori 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.

 For more information on the Fund contact communityenergy@mbie.govt.nz

 Note to Editors

Around $1.2 million will be allocated across the five projects. The process to allocate the remaining funding is still being finalised, and will be announced later this year.  

Community Renewable Energy Fund – first tranche of projects 

Soho Group Limited, ‘Project 3 Wanaka-Tebbs’, $400,000 
Solar PV panels will be installed on 35 public rental homes that are being constructed in new housing developments in Tauranga and Whangārei. 

Manawa Household Limited, ‘Manawa Kaumātua Village’, $220,000  
Solar PV panels will be installed on 20 kaumātua rental flats that are being constructed in Tauranga.  

Habitat for Humanity, ‘Project Maunu Road’, $225,409 
Solar PV panels will be installed on 23 homes of a new community housing development being constructed in Whangārei. 

Camellia House Trust, ‘Sustainability Haerenga’, $35,000 
A solar PV system with battery will be installed for the transitional housing facility in Manawatū that provides accommodation for vulnerable people, including children. 

 He Waka Tapu Limited, ‘Ahikā Housing Project’, $239,635 
A centralised microgrid solar PV system with an automated billing system and battery will be installed to support 10 residential units at a new facility in Christchurch that will be built to provide emergency and transitional accommodation to whānau.