Government clean energy fund to slash power bills for more Māori and public homes

Energy and Resources Housing
  • 12 renewable energy projects help 180 Māori households get cheaper, cleaner power
  • Power bills reduced by up to 50 per cent on completed projects
  • Solar panels are being installed on 100 public homes in the Wellington region with more installations planned around the country
  • Helps bring energy independence to remote communities
  • Part of a suite of government initiatives targeting energy hardship
  • Projects to be proof of concept for future energy solutions

Hundreds more households living in Māori and public homes are set to benefit from locally generated, clean power, thanks to government funding for trialling small-scale renewable energy projects, says Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

“Around 180 Māori households will be able to access cheap, clean power through solar panels, household batteries and new geothermal energy systems thanks to the second funding round of the Māori Housing Renewable Energy Fund, totalling $2.3 million,” Megan Woods said.

“Some of the 12 projects being funded today are also supporting broader energy benefits, such as bringing energy independence to remote communities, supporting Māori energy businesses, building skills, and enabling mana whenua to return to traditional energy sources.

“This funding round follows the *$2.8 million allocated to 14 projects in May last year that provided renewable energy to more than 200 Māori households,” Minister Woods said. 

“Already through the successful round 1 projects we’re starting to see the real impact that the Māori Housing Renewable Energy Fund is having on people’s lives, with monthly energy bills being halved in some cases, enabling whānau to better heat their homes to a healthy standard,” says Associate Minister for Māori Housing Peeni Henare. 

“For example, Te Arawa Whānau Ora installed solar panels on 14 homes around Rotorua last year. Over summer, those households saved on average about $100 on their monthly power bills – a reduction of between 30 and 50 percent.

“With the savings, one of these households has been able to install a heat pump, which is the cheapest, most efficient way to heat the home to a healthy temperature. Others are feeling more confident about heating their home without worrying about the cost – no doubt to the benefit of their overall health and wellbeing.”

About $14 million of funding in total is available for renewable energy projects on Māori housing, with the third and final funding round, worth $9 million, opening last week. A further $14 million is available for renewable energy projects on public housing, most of which is being administered through Kāinga Ora.

Kāinga Ora is currently trialing solar panels on 100 public homes in the Wellington region. To date, solar panels have been installed on 17 public homes in Lower Hutt and Porirua, with the remaining 83 expected to be installed by August. Two new public homes in Napier had solar panels installed in November as part of the trial.

Kāinga Ora is planning further solar installations throughout the country and by 2024, approximately 1000 public homes will be fitted with renewable energy systems.

The trials are designed to help understand how Kāinga Ora can use this technology to support customers to live well in their homes, while contributing to the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s economy.

For more information about the Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

Watch this short b-roll video for more information about Kāinga Ora’s solar trial.

Note to Editors

The Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund complements other government initiatives aimed at reducing energy hardship:

  • Winter Energy Payment to re-start on May 1 providing $31.82 a week for couples, and people with dependent children – a total of $700 over winter
  • The Warmer Kiwi Homes programme provides grants to eligible homeowners to cover 80 percent of the costs of ceiling and underfloor heating and an approved heater.
  • The Support for Energy Education in Communities (SEEC) Programme is allocating nearly $8 million over four years to community-level initiatives to support people experiencing energy hardship achieve warmer, more energy-efficient homes and lower their energy bills.
  • An independent Energy Hardship Expert Panel has been established to recommend policy priorities and actions to government to alleviate energy hardship.
  • An Energy Hardship Reference Group has been established as a forum to share information and encourage coordination across the electricity industry, NGOs and government agencies.
  • Petrol excise duty and road user charges both cut by 25 cents a litre for three months as part of a Government cost of living relief package that includes April 1 income increases for majority of New Zealand households.

*The Round 1 press release announced 15 projects. This later changed to 14 projects with the remainder of the funding being added to the funding pool in Round 2.