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Energy pilot launches

CE Activator

Energy pilot launches to empower local communities

A collaboration between Ara Ake, Orion and the Community Energy Network is piloting a programme to support Christchurch and Selwyn communities develop a range of community energy projects. The Community Energy Activator aims to empower local communities to actively participate in and benefit from real-world energy projects, moving us closer to a net-zero future for the region.

Community energy is about people and communities taking democratic control over their energy future, by understanding, generating, using, owning, sharing and saving energy in their communities, as well as working together across regions and nationally.

Over an immersive thirteen-week programme, teams will explore community energy models and develop their ideas and plans while building invaluable networks and learning alongside the Activator organisers.

“By bringing together a cohort of local communities with national mentors, experts, and community energy innovators, the Activator will take them on a journey to explore their local context and community aspirations, learn about the opportunities offered by different community energy models, and understand what it takes to bring these to life,” says Sam Elder, GM Energy Futures, Orion.

“From Orion’s perspective, we are keen to understand the opportunity for community energy models as innovative ‘Non-Traditional Solutions’ supporting delivery of electricity lines services at lowest cost to consumers. This brings to life our purpose of powering a cleaner, brighter future with our community.”

“Accelerating energy innovation to support community resilience initiatives in New Zealand is a key focus for Ara Ake. Last year, we published a step-by-step guide for developing viable community energy projects, with input from communities across the country,” says Jonathan Young, Head of Industry and Government Engagement, Ara Ake.

“This year, we're partnering with the Community Energy Network and Orion to implement the guide in Canterbury, helping communities improve their energy resilience and affordability. The Activator is designed to be scalable and will run in other regions in 2025."

The pilot programme, guided by industry professionals, is founded on collaborative and peer-to-peer learning. The pilot will be a mix of online and in-person learning, including site visits to local community energy projects. Community groups should expect to commit four to six hours per week over the 13 weeks. Hours committed and site visits are expected to be outside of normal working hours. The Activator will culminate in an event where the teams will present their projects to a group of energy experts and other stakeholders.

“We are proud to be a collaborator in this initiative that marks a significant step towards a sustainable energy future. Our hope is that more than one of these projects will access the funding and expertise needed to be realised,” says Gareth Cartwright, Executive Officer, Community Energy Network.

To apply, submit an expression of interest  For more information, email [email protected]  Applications close 31 July 2024.

Key dates

  • Information sessions Tuesday 16 July 2024, Christchurch, and Wednesday 17 July 2024, Rolleston
  • Expressions of interest close Wednesday 31 July 2024.
  • The programme runs part-time with a mix of online and in-person hui and site visits for 13 weeks from 1 September-28 November 2024.
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