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A joint renewal energy initiative

Te Nehenehenui Trust (formally Maniapoto Māori Trust Board) and TLC are working together on a renewable energy solutions pilot with Marae.

The pilot is set to support the aspirations of Marae and whānau development as Te Nehenehenui Trust look to new, innovative approaches for whānau-based energy solutions.

Electricity generated from renewable resources will also help TLC to facilitate the push towards decarbonisation.

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Frequently asked questions

Why is TLC doing this project?

TLC is a customer owned network. What that means is profit TLC makes is given back to those consumers that own the network in the way of a TLC Discount to those who live in the Northern part of the network – this is paid by way of a credit on their electricity retail bill twice a year. Working with Te Nehenehenui Trust is an opportunity to work with one of the largest stakeholders in our business. Developing a peer-to-peer trading platform which will enable our community to share energy amongst themselves is another way to give back to our customers. Being an energy enabler is an important part of what we do at TLC.

How does this project support TLC’s vision of Growing Communities with Energy?

It supports TLC’s four strategic pou designed to help people thrive. The project will make energy more accessible for our community. Utilising renewable energy and communities’ ability to share it is the most sustainable way forward. By utilising our network to share energy this is far more efficient than other expensive options like batteries. Our community’s energy demands are rising, and decarbonisation could cause a rise in inequality. This pilot will help the sharing of energy – growing communities’ ability to generate power in the places that are best suited to area’s that are suited for solar and then sharing that energy to others on the network.

How does this pilot project support Marae, Hapū and Whānau development?

Under the Te Nehenehenui Trust’s current Strategic Plan, this kaupapa supports the focus on long-term whānau wellbeing and enables regional development for Maniapoto through infrastructure development under Pou Tahua (Strategy & Development) priorities.

How will the project benefit the people who receive the excess energy?

We believe recipients will benefit in several ways including reduced energy costs, greater accessibility to energy, and improved wellbeing. Participants will also be supporting the country’s push for cleaner energy solutions by using electricity generated from the sun’s renewable resource. This also supports energy education through our communities and rohe.

What is the name of this pilot project?

Maniapoto Marae Solar Solutions Project.

Who is involved in the project?

The Lines Company (TLC) and the Te Nehenehenui Trust agreed to collaborate to:

  1. Commission the installation on two selected Marae
  2. Assist with the collection of data to analyse the impact of this project

The Maniapoto Māori Trust Board engaged the services of Aotahi Ltd to manage their obligations to the project on their behalf of which Aroha Bidois, an employee of Aotahi Ltd, is the Project Lead.

How many solar panels were installed on the Marae and what sort of panels are they?

There are a total of 56 solar panels, which are REC branded units with a 330W power output.

How long are the solar panels expected to last?

They have a 25-year warranty.

Does the Marae own the solar panels?

Yes, at the end of the 12-month pilot.

Does TLC own the solar panels?

The Marae receives all the power they can use from the solar panels, any extra energy that is generated is gifted to 5 households of the Marae’s choice.

Who is responsible for maintaining the panels?

The solar panels are under the manufacturer’s warranty. However, the panels need to be regularly cleaned to ensure they produce the most energy possible. The Marae will learn how to maintain the panels with support from the installer/supplier, TLC & Te Nehenehenui Trust.

What is a peer-to-peer trading platform?

It is a software platform which enables the Marae to allocate or gift excess energy to chosen households.  Basically, it is where one customer (the Marae) can nominate other customers (the Households) who are with the same energy provider (Ecotricity) to share their surplus energy with.

If I am someone who receives the excess energy, does this means my lines charges disappear?

No, the lines portion of the charges remain as we still need to operate the network, including the power lines which take the excess energy away from the solar panels and return it to the households receiving it.

If I am someone receiving the excess energy, how will I know when I am using the gifted solar power?

The peer-to-peer platform shares energy in real-time, so when the sun is shining on the panels, and they are producing energy, the energy is being shared. Shared energy will be shown as a credit on the bill from Ecotricity.

Does TLC own the power generated from the solar panels?

No, the Marae owns the power.

Are fees charged for the peer-to-peer trading platform?

No fees are charged to Marae or participants for the peer-to-peer trading platform.

Is there a particular electricity retailer recipients of the power need to be a customer of?

All participants must use Ecotricity as their energy retailer as they are partnering in the development of the platform.

If I am someone receiving the excess energy, can I change power companies?

For the duration of the pilot, all participants are required to have Ecotricity as their retailer.

How are the Marae selecting the recipients of the power created?

Each Marae Trustees will select 5 households for the pilot, with Kaumātua as priority, where possible.

Does TLC get to decide who gets the free power?

No, this decision is made by the Marae Trustees.

Are there any batteries installed as part of the project?

There are no batteries, any surplus energy generated is shared, not stored.

If the Marae installs batteries or more solar panels, would they own them?

Yes. For a period of 12-months any surplus energy that is generated must be shared. After the pilot has finished, the Marae can use their assets for any purpose the like.

How much money does TLC make off the deal?

TLC’s standard lines charges apply to all connections (as they normally would), there are no additional charges. TLC are also covering the costs to prove the peer-to-peer trading platform is suitable for sharing energy.

What is TLC charging the Marae in the way of ongoing costs for the pilot?

Nothing, there are no immediate or ongoing costs for any Marae or participants. There are no contracts, fees or ongoing costs after the project has ended.

How does the excess power get back into the grid?

Each installation has an inverter and an export/import meter installed. It’s technical stuff, but basically it’s a metered box which lets the energy travel in both directions.

Does TLC need to put any additional cables/lines in to take the excess energy away from the panels?

No – the initial Marae selection was done based on Marae that already had the necessary infrastructure to export the large amount of energy that the solar panels generate.

How will the Marae know how much excess energy is available to gift?

There will be an App that can be downloaded where participants can see the generation.

What is the process for Marae to be able to gift the excess energy to recipients?

The peer-to-peer trading platform and smart meter monitor the import and export of energy in real time. This is something completely new to the New Zealand electricity market. That is why this trial is so important.

Does TLC need to authorise/approve the gifting of the excess energy to recipients?


If a Marae is interested in being part of a similar project, who do they contact.

This project is for two Marae. Once the pilot is complete, we will be able to discuss the opportunity for further Marae.