Sunny days in Ōtaki will have extra value now that a community solar farm has been given the go-ahead.
The project is being spearheaded by Energise Ōtaki, 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.
The solar farm project has been given a big helping hand courtesy of a funding injection of $407,000 from the Wellington Community Trust.
Six hundred photovoltaic panels will generate over 160 kilowattpeak of electricity when the sun is shining.
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 council's wastewater treatment plant in Riverbank Rd 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 Rd farm will go to the Energise Ōtaki Community Investment Fund, which will support energy projects in the town.
Energise Ōtaki chairman Leigh Ramsey said, "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."
Wellington Community Trust chairman Roger Palairet 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."