A potential solar power farm could help reduce heating costs for 400 low income houses in Flaxmere.

The project, Power to the People, is run through St Andrew's Church in Hastings, and is proposing building a two-hectare Photovoltaic (PV) solar farm on the outskirts of the suburb.

Project Manager Chris Lambourne said the project would help around 1500 individuals in 400 houses stay warm over winter.

"The people who we are going to be engaging with would be people who have health issues and are on social benefits, people with the worst indicators of social deprivation."


He said the project to produce enough power to so customers could run a heat pump full-time over winter.

He said having a warm home decreases rates of illness, which in turn increases rates of school and work attendance.

They are aiming to have the programme up and running as early as next winter, and are currently setting up crowdfunding pages to allow the community to get involved with the project.

The project is seeking funding from Hawke's Bay Regional Council through the sustainable homes programme.

The proposal will be presented to the Environment and Services Committee on Wednesday.

Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe said he knew people who stayed in bed all day to keep warm in winter. Photo / File
Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe said he knew people who stayed in bed all day to keep warm in winter. Photo / File

The sustainable homes programme does fund solar power already, but it is targeted at residents who own their home.

Lambourne said they are hoping to receive funding so residents in renters can also benefit from the programme.

The total cost of the project will be $2.7 million, $2.2 million of which would be through grants and $500,000 as debt.


Hawke's Bay Regional Council's contribution would be capped at $500,000, which would be given as a loan.

As well as helping improve people's health funding the project would assist council with its goal of being carbon neutral by 2040, the paper being presented to the committee states.

Flaxmere Ward councillor Henare O'Keefe said he had not previously been aware of the project but said learning about it was "music to my ears".

"Some of our elders stay in bed all day just to warm.

"This shouldn't be happening in our country.

"There is enough wealth, there is enough resource, all we need is the political will and the benevolent will to make it happen.

"If we did that all those issues would disappear overnight."

If it passes the Environment and Services Committee, as is council officers' recommendation, the funding would then be considered at a full council meeting.