Energy Democracy Managing Director Alan Major and chairwoman Shelley Major. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Two siblings set on making green energy more accessible to people on low-incomes have their sights on Carterton to home the first solar park in New Zealand run by their co-operative.
The co-op, aptly named Energy Democracy, would rely on between 140 and 200 members signing up.
Should those people front up the Carterton District Council have already eyed up three hectares of land, specifically the triangular sections that lurk between pivot irrigators, that could hold the solar panels.
Energy Democracy chairwoman Shelley Major said the idea for Energy Democracy was sparked by their interests in tidal energy which was proving to the “long game”.
“While we are waiting for the economics of that to improve, we gave thought to what else can we be doing in that renewable energy space and realised that there was an opportunity to make energy democracy come alive, as it were, for people who would like to access solar but don’t have a roof.”
This would be ideal for renters or those with properties shaded by trees.
“It’s about making a difference, leaving a legacy if you will, in our own small way.”
She said it was definitely possible to get needed membership and hoped to bring more solar parks to Wairarapa.
“We are hearing that the winery community are quite interested in solar and there is a concentration of them around Martinborough,” she said.
“It would be great to find some land around Martinborough and be able to stand up another solar park.
“As long as the economics stand up… It’s scalable to meet demand.”
The projected price for the solar panel parcels had been coming down, she said.
“It’s looking like it will be under $10,000.”
Carterton District Council Planning and Regulatory Manager Dave Gittings said due to the configuration of solar panels, which are quite small, they were versatile enough to be placed in the sections pivot irrigators missed.
“It’s spare, you can’t do anything else with it,” he said.
He said the council would love to source its energy from the solar initiative, calling existing power bills “frightening”.
They are up there, he said.
There are huge amounts of power usage, when you consider street lights, the Events Centre and pumps at the waste water treatment site etcetera, he said.
“If we could reduce them, at most by 50 per cent but even by 25 per cent, you’d make huge savings for the ratepayer.”
It was something they had thought about previously, he said.
It would be great to reduce the cost of that.
A public meeting is being held by Energy Democracy at the Carterton Events Centre today at 5:30pm for those who want to find out more.