Call to generate, save energy

Transition Valley 473 member Alex King and resident Cassandra Thomas, with her nephew Hemi Birch ...
Transition Valley 473 member Alex King and resident Cassandra Thomas, with her nephew Hemi Birch (1) watch the new insulation go up into the ceiling of Ms Thomas' home. Photo by Dan Hutchinson.

Dunedinites are being encouraged to generate their own energy and will get ''a red carpet, not red tape'' response from the Dunedin City Council.

Mayor Dave Cull says city residents could be saving hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel, power and food with a more local approach.

The council released a discussion document at a public meeting in Dunedin last night, to gather more ideas for its Energy Plan.

Mr Cull said power generation did not have to include large projects and there were things that people could do to generate power at their own homes.

Previously unaffordable products such as photovoltaic solar cells were now a lot cheaper for home owners than five years ago.

Dunedinites spent an estimated $325 million on petrol and diesel in 2011, says the discussion document, which almost all went out of the local economy.

Mr Cull said more efficient vehicles, electric-powered vehicles and any biofuels that were made and sold in Dunedin would stop some of that money going out of the economy.

Even things such as home vegetable gardens or buying locally-produced food could make a big contribution to reducing the cost of transport and the dollars flowing out of the city, the document said.

Warming up cold, uninsulated Dunedin homes is already well under way and various council, Government and community groups are involved.

A perfect example of that was happening at the Pine Hill property of Cassandra Thomas yesterday.

Ms Thomas was getting insulation installed by volunteers from carbon-conscious community group Transition Valley 473 and the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT).

''I am stoked. It is quite a cold house and because we only have a heat pump, we struggle,'' Ms Thomas said.

Transition member Alex King said they did energy audits for people to see where they could save money, gave them a star rating out of six and advice on steps they could take to improve their situation.

They also found the best deals, sponsorship, Government subsidies and volunteer labour to get the work done.

The BRCT also has plans for its own power generation, with a wind turbine above Blueskin Bay that would feed into the national grid, helping to increase the amount of local generation.

That project is complemented by a programme of education in the area of energy savings and other community resilience initiatives.

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