Milton included in clean heat project

Milton residents will soon be able to receive the benefits of the Otago Regional Council's Warm Homes, Clean Heat, Clean Air project.

The project provides subsidised retrofit insulation and replacement of heating appliances in homes, with a special emphasis on those in towns in areas with the worst air quality - airzone 1.

Milton was not included in airzone 1, but testing this winter showed the number of days the town exceeded the acceptable PM10 levels (seven) was higher than in Arrowtown (four), Clyde (three) or Cromwell (four), which were all in airzone 1.

At yesterday's finance and corporate committee meeting in Dunedin, chief executive Graeme Martin said to include Milton in airzone 1 would require an air plan change, which could take one to two years.

After consulting the project's stakeholder group, it had been decided Milton should be treated as if it was in airzone 1, so residents could access the programme's benefits, he said.

The committee recommended to the council that the financial assistance available to residents in airzone 1 apply to Milton.

Mr Martin said of all the insulation and retrofitting programmes running around New Zealand, Otago's was "outperforming all of them".

Regional council programme manager Jeff Donaldson said the programme had confirmed funding for three years from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

Take-up of the programme this winter had been affected by public concern about possible power shortages, which, combined with incentives from coal suppliers, meant some decided to put off replacing their non-compliant burners, he said.

About 27 homeowners who had signed up to the programme refused to allow installers to replace their fire due to those concerns.

A target was set of 140 homes where fires would be replaced, but a delay in funding explained the final tally of 86 homes - including 60 in Alexandra and 17 in Clyde.

It was originally hoped to complete insulation retrofits of 325 homes, but funding meant only 291 were done by the end of June - including 121 in Dunedin and 117 in Central Otago.


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