Full power to the Hastings church that came up with the idea to build a solar farm to provide electricity for 400 low-income houses in Flaxmere.

It's an idea that will take some serious work, and serious dosh, to make happen, but if it does, what a boon it could be.

Solar power has been talked about as the way of the future for near-on 30 years. But the reality of the current market is that it's the way of the future for the elite.

Few low-income earners would pay the thousands that it costs to put solar panels on the roof of the house they already have a big mortgage on.


That's a risk and a luxury that only someone who isn't worried about putting bread on the table each week would be prepared to take.

And no renter would suggest to their landlord to put panels up - that would risk a rent rise to cover the investment.

Power to the People, a charitable trust formed through St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Hastings, wants to use a $500,000 loan from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council (HBRC) and grants from various potential funders to build the farm.

They're looking at various sites, weighing up the pros and cons, including the potential multimillion-dollar costs.

This is a worthy cause, and Hawke's Bay Regional Council has indicated it's keen to give them a chance to get started, giving its initial backing for the loan at an Environment Services Committee meeting on Wednesday.

Committee chairman Tom Belford said it was a "great initiative".

"This fits perfectly with our Sustainable Homes programme, and supports our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040."

Councillor Paul Bailey said it would help our Flaxmere community have drier and warmer homes.


"We would also welcome other community initiatives like this."

Flaxmere might be one of the poorest suburbs in the region, but it's one of the sunniest places in NZ.

To use that sun for social good is the brightest idea I've heard in a long time.