Energise Ōtaki “Business Energy Service” Launch

Economic Development

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā raurangtira mā.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Thank you for welcoming me so warmly this morning to the Energise Ōtaki Business Energy Service Launch.

I know you were expecting a different face today and it’s unfortunate that our Prime Minister isn’t able to be here.

I’ve heard that he’s well and truly on the mend and looking forward to getting back out tomorrow.

Can I begin by acknowledging the work of Energise Ōtaki Charitable Trust, Trustee Dr Gael Ferguson, the Business Energy Service and Leigh Ramsey for the wonderful introduction.

Can I also acknowledge their worships Janet Holborow, Kāpiti Mayor and Bernie Wanden, Horowhenua Mayor.

To our Ōtaki Principal Andy Fraser, thank you for hosting us.

And to the students – it was so awesome to see your creativity and ingenuity on our way into the hall and the results of your “EVelocity” competition.

After seeing your ideas, I wouldn’t be surprised if the world’s next generation of EVs include some of the features on display today.

I’m also fortunate to be joined by my colleague and one of the proudest supporters of Ōtaki, local MP Terisa Ngobi. Fa’afetai tele lava.

Energise Ōtaki is a prime example of what can be achieved when a community comes together.

Generating community owned renewable energy and then selling the excess power back into the grid is an impressive achievement.

I’ve also been informed that you then take it a step further, by using those funds to reinvest in Ōtaki, supporting community projects and those who call this place home.

As many of you will know, the Government’s vision is for a thriving low-emissions economy.

To get there we have two goals:

  1. Net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; and
  2. For 50 per cent of all energy consumed to be produced from renewables by 2035.

To achieve these goals, we must transition our economy away from fossil fuels, and communities and small business have a key role to play in this transition.

I also want to acknowledge that these are ambitious. But we need to be with the growing impact of climate change on our shores.

We know that extreme weather events will only become more common.

This year we’ve already seen the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle, record flooding in Auckland and more recently in Southland.

Besides lower costs and increasing access to energy, small scale solar projects also increase the resilience of communities in the face of these events.

In the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, more than 50,000 homes were without electricity, some for weeks.

Households with solar panels and batteries that managed to keep essential appliances and internet communications operating when the main grid was damaged, demonstrating the value such community energy projects can have.

As we lower our emissions and electrify our economy, some estimates have found that we will need to grow our electricity production by up to 170 per cent.

By using community generated solar energy to power your wastewater treatment plant, for example, you are demonstrating the possibilities of using renewable energy to help decarbonise our economy.

We want all communities to have the opportunity to benefit from New Zealand’s of renewable energy resources.

To get there, we’ve committed to funds that help get community scale renewable energy projects off the ground.

The Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund is a great example of this.

In 2020, we invested $28 million into the fund to trial small-scale renewable energy technologies.

Our commitment has also seen in the Community Renewable Energy Fund which was established by the Government last year.

As we reflect on what’s happened this year, this fund recognises the value of community projects to build resilience to climate change and extreme weather events.

In the short term, the fund is rolling out renewable energy systems for community buildings in affected regions. A community energy Capability Building Hub is also being established to provide technical advice to communities seeking to develop renewable energy projects.

Today’s milestone is a testament to the work of Energise Ōtaki as we celebrate the launch of the Business Energy Service.

Community led organisations such as yourself have shown what can be achieved in this space and are an inspiration to others.

I know that the success of your projects is no coincidence, and it is commendable that the rest of your community can now benefit more directly from your experiences in this field.

My takeaway for you would be that as we electrify, we can’t afford to leave behind the most vulnerable among us, nor can we afford to wait any longer if we are to meet our climate change commitments.

This is a journey that we’re all on together.

Once again, congratulations and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

I look forward to hearing all about your success.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Ia manuia.