Leigh Ramsey, Chair of Energise Ōtaki has announced a community solar farm project that will harvest energy from the sun to fund community energy projects in Ōtaki. Funding of $407,000 comes from the Wellington Community Trust, in recognition of the significance of this innovative community project.

“We thank the Wellington Community Trust and Kāpiti Coast District Council for being partners with us on this project with the support of our Mayor, K Gurunathan and Electra for their willingness to support the vision,” said Leigh Ramsey, Chairperson, Energise Ōtaki.

Roger Palairet, Chairperson, Wellington Community Trust said “One of the many appealing aspects of Energise Ōtaki’s proposal for us as a Trust was the return on our investment being reinvested back into the Ōtaki community. The establishment of a local community trust that will redistribute income earned from the solar arrays into projects that address energy hardship and sustainability in the region was innovative and very attractive to us”,

Energise Ōtaki is a charitable incorporated society established in 2010 to develop Ōtaki as a town that is as self-sustaining as possible in energy. This includes energy conservation, renewable energy generation, innovation around technologies, energy education and working with schools, finding ways to avoid energy waste, and energy recovery from waste.

Six hundred photovoltaic panels, will generate over 160 kWp of electricity when the sun is shining, something which happens a lot in Ōtaki. Two solar farms will be built later in the year: one adjacent to the Ōtaki Wastewater Treatment Plant, the other at Ōtaki College.

The Solar Farm at Kāpiti Coast District Council’s Wastewater Treatment Plant in Riverbank Road will generate power to run the wastewater treatment process. The Council has approved the lease of nearby land to Energise Ōtaki, and agreed to purchase power generated by the solar farm.

The Solar Farm at Ōtaki College will provide energy for College operations, on similar lines to the XŌtaki Foundation Trust installation which Energise Ōtaki has also supported. Excess energy over the summer months will be provided to the local grid although Energise Ōtaki will also be exploring energy storage as a further stage, collaborating with Electra.

Anticipated annual income of $29,000 from electricity generation at the Riverbank Road farm will go to the Energise Ōtaki Community Investment Fund, which will support energy projects in the town.