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Blueskin Power
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Contact:

Scott Willis
03 4822048
waitatienergy@gmail.com

Summary

Our project is establishing a _community power cooperative_ and developing an _embedded Distributed Generation asset_ (*wind turbine*) at Blueskin Bay, Otago. We're a resourceful community that since 2006 has been taking an integrated approach to energy: we want to build our own renewable generation to meet our communities electricity needs, and show all of New Zealand how it can be done. We'll reduce our carbon emissions, give cost savings to households in return for community energy savings, get income for other sustainability initiatives, literally link our consumption to production, develop a strong symbol of who we are and what we're proud of, and OWN IT OURSELVES. We want to provide a *blueprint* for other New Zealand communities.

Goals

Extensive flooding in 2006 demonstrated two main things to the Waitati community: 1. Our vulnerability to extreme events beyond our control (such as Climate Change related weather events), and 2. Our resourcefulness and ability to make things happen ourselves. From that point on we began planning in a co-ordinated way, around how to make our community more resilient to shocks and more autonomous, or more able to adapt and manage the unexpected.

*Our vision* is to facilitate a positive, healthy, secure and resilient future for Waitati, Blueskin Bay and linked communities and promote sustainable resource use. We are engaged in an active transition to a lower energy future and seek to lower our carbon footprint while developing an energy resilient system.

*Energy Resilience* is our main goal. We're working at this through: developing energy literacy (helping people understand about energy and their use of its different forms); building energy efficiency and reducing energy demand; developing our own locally generated electrical energy.

Our Flagship project is the development of a community wind turbine.

Outcomes

Our integrated approach is having deep and widespread effects that are sometimes hard to quantify (people making individual choices to purchase electric bikes, buy a Prius, cycle, not car, to work), but also yielding strong results, such as: 400K spent on insulating cold houses in Blueskin Bay and beyond in 2009.

Concretely our Blueskin Power project has secured funding for a Salary and a feasibility study, and has secured much pro-bono support from the University of Otago, industry and community partners.

We have submitted an interim report to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority on our progress, with a final report due end of March 2010.

Within the feasibility work:
- we've facilitated the installation of wind
measurements structures
- we've secured and are analysing existing local wind data
- we're prospecting for viable sites, while assessing the sites we have access to
- we've begun planning the resource consent process
- we're developing ownership options
- we're running financial viability models as data comes in
- we've kept our local community informed of and engaged in the progress
- we are working closely with our lines company to make this happen
- we're developing new relationships with potential partners.

In working through this project a vibrant discussion has emerged in the community - not only around the wind turbine but discussing energy and sustainability more generally. There has been a strengthening of social relations as real deliverables cut across social groups, and discussion and possibilities engage everyone.

The biggest 'deliverable' though is in energy awareness, and the subtle transformation of habits. We expect that if the Blueskin Power project is successful we'll have a much greater power to change habits through incentives and develop far greater power over our own futures, but also give the same power to other New Zealand communities.

Future Plans

End of March - report to EECA
Middle March - community survey on Turbine launched
Early March - Field trip to Horseshoe Bend turbines
11th Feb - Waitati Energy Project meeting

Huge fundraising effort to launch mid year if our feasibility work establishes that we a). have enough wind to make generation worthwhile, and b). can find a way to own and manage it as a community.

Solar collaboration with community partners for East Coast Otago