A new community-based solar farm in Ōtaki will be a catalyst for future green initiatives in the lower North Island, says Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
He was in Ōtaki to open the farm, which is the first community-based solar array in New Zealand.
Green Party Co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw was also there, with Te Tai Hauāuru MP Adrian Rurawhe and Green list MP Jan Logie.
The farm, set up by Energise Ōtaki, has two parts:
!. A large installation at Kāpiti Coast Council’s Ōtaki wastewater treatment plant, and
2. A smaller one at Ōtaki College.
Power and education
Speaking at the college after the opening, Grant Robertson said the project had many benefits.
“Sure, it’s about Ōtaki generating its own power, but it’s also about education.
“You’re actually a wananga, educating about renewable energy and how it can end energy poverty. “
He acknowledged an ‘event happening on the 17th (the election)’ but said that until then he could speak on behalf of the Government.
“We support what you do. This kind of energy generation is exactly what we want to see,” he said.
Community Trust gave $407,000
Energise Ōtaki secured funding of $407,000 from the Wellington Community Trust to set up the solar farm.
Two innovative solar systems will generate power to go straight to users within the community.
A 23 -kWp system is now installed at Ōtaki College and a 107 kWp system adjacent to the Ōtaki Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Power generated will be used at the college and to run the KCDC’s wastewater treatment.
Proceeds for the community
Proceeds from the sale of electricity will go into the Energise Ōtaki Community Investment Fund, supporting energy and other projects in the town.
Both KCDC and the College are buying electricity from the solar arrays at market rates. The farm is now producing power for both sites.
In another innovation, solar farm revenue goes into the Ōtaki Community Investment Fund, also the first of its kind in New Zealand.
A committee from Energise Ōtaki, major funder Wellington Community Trust, Nga Hapū o Ōtaki and the District Council will award funds to projects — primarily to energy-focused projects with social, environmental or job benefits.