Business benefits electrify at conference in resort

If attendance is anything to go by, businesses in Queenstown are keen to get on board with the wonders of electrification.

The inaugural Electrify Queenstown conference was hosted in collaboration with Destination Queenstown and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce at Millbrook Resort yesterday.

The event attracted 150 people to a panel session in the morning, followed by a trade show attended by several companies in the afternoon.

Destination Queenstown chief executive Mat Woods said the event was to show "the benefits of electrification, and what businesses can electrify such as vehicles, heating and cooking methods".

"It was important to build an understanding that when things need to be replaced, replacing them with electric alternatives are not only better for the planet, but can also be cheaper, and more reliable."

He was overwhelmed with the turnout and interest in the event.

"Realistically we expected 50 people to turn up, but we had to cap attendance for the morning’s panel at 150 people."

Panellist Mike Casey was the perfect example of electrification in business, Mr Woods said.

Forest Lodge Orchard and Rewind Aotearoa CEO, Mike Casey (left) and Destination Queenstown CEO,...
Forest Lodge Orchard and Rewind Aotearoa CEO, Mike Casey (left) and Destination Queenstown CEO, Mat Woods at the Electrify Queenstown summit held at Milbrook Resort yesterday. PHOTO: RHYVA VAN ONSELEN
Mr Casey’s cherry farm, Forest Lodge Orchard in Cromwell, was the first farm in the country to operate using all electric equipment.

He even owned the first electric tractor exported from the United States.

The tractor has more than 100 kilowatt hours of battery, about 10 hours of use a day, and takes four to five hours to charge.

Electricity from the tractor’s 100kW battery was even used to power up the heating in an outdoor marquee for yesterday’s event.

Mr Casey said his keenness for electrification grew when he realised the "incredible slam-dunk" ranged from climate benefits, saving money, and the liberty of using power created by solar panels on his farm.

Using his enthusiasm for electrification, Mr Casey started charity Rewind Aotearoa, which has a goal of accelerating electrification in New Zealand, aiming to electrify 10 million fossil-fuelled machines by 2030.

"This could be anything from weed whackers and lawn mowers to light trucks and tractors."

With plans to create a bigger and better event next year, Mr Woods said Aurora was already on board to be the principal sponsor again.

— Olivia Judd