Blueskin Energy Limited is a social enterprise which is wholly owned by the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT), a registered charity operating out of Blueskin Bay, just north of Dunedin. BRCT’s patron is Jeanette Fitzsimons.
Blueskin Energy Ltd’s directors bring a wealth of experience in ethical finance, management and the energy sector, including wind farm development. Blueskin Energy Limited’s directors are: Charles Abraham, Tony Wilson and Chris Freear.
Operations are managed by Project Manager Scott Willis, who is assisted by Camilla Cox in the local office and numerous community volunteers. Blueskin Energy Limited works with P2Power (as service provider) and PowerNet (as Network owner) to deliver the Blueskin Energy Network. BEL also depends on significant pro bono support including: Galloway Cook Allan, the Akina Foundation, Russell McVeagh, Foot Law, Ross Dowling Marquet Griffin, DNV-GL Energy, Angus Napier, BrandAid and Unifone. Donations of equipment have been received from Trustpower Ltd and Meridian Energy and early data collection and analysis provided by Windflow Technology Ltd.
In September 2006 at a community visioning workshop in Waitati, residents proposed a number of projects to increase community resilience. Energy was seen as one important action area, and development of a community wind turbine and/or community wind farm was proposed.
The Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust was launched in October 2008 to provide planning, structure and governance for local actions to strengthen our communities in the immediate, mid and long-term future.
Early in 2009, University of Otago Geography students, with support from the Trust, evaluated five sites and began collecting wind data from two within the Blueskin area.
By the second half of 2009 the Trust had developed Memorandum of Understandings with the local lines network, a turbine supplier and the Akina Foundation. Work began on a feasibility study for a single, community owned and managed, grid integrated wind turbine.
The feasibility study was completed in 2010. Early in 2011 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Our Wind Ltd, a subsidiary of Windflow Technology Ltd, which resulted in the establishment of a 10 metre wind measuring mast on Porteous Hill.
In 2011 a formal research project was launched, to document the community engagement and participation in the project as well as capture the methodology and process with a view to building a ‘toolkit’ for other communities to follow.
The data collected from the Porteous Hill has shown that a financially viable project can be built on the site.
In 2015 a Resource Consent application to construct a local wind farm was lodged with the Dunedin City Council. Consent was declined when the Commissioner placed rural amenity value in a proposed district plan ahead of the very directive National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation. The decision was appealed to the Environment Court where it was declined again, in 2017, on the same basis.
Faced with a legal setback that is also an impediment to a small scale renewable projects and undermines the Government target of 100% renewable electricity generation by 2035, we prepared and launched the Blueskin Energy Network in December 2017.
The first customers were connected to the Blueskin Energy Network in April 2018. We are now live!
The Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT)
The dividends we produce will help support BRCT’s existing community activities such as:
- Climate Safe housing and climate change planning;
- Free energy advice, Home Performance Assessments, and further assistance to the Cosy Homes Trust;
- Work on building a resilient energy system using interactive technologies to allow peer to peer transactions in the local network to develop a ‘cooperative grid’;
- Support for local volunteer initiatives;
- Development of low carbon transport options;
- Facilitating connections to grow the local economy particulary through local food system work;
- Increased access to services such as insulation and local firewood;
- Improving biodiversity for biodiversity gain;
- Strengthening our partnership with Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka.
We anticipate a growing demand for these services through time. Our model of social enterprise is a financially sustainable business model that aims to deliver environmental and social benefit, and is now more than ever necessary to create resilient local economies while eliminating poverty and respecting nature’s limits.
Our Blueskin Turbine is a small-scale renewable generation project that will increase our resilience and demonstrate that we can generate electricity in harmony with nature to deliver economic value for our community.
We will share our experience widely.