TLC Maniapoto joint solar pilot gets underway
2 September 2022
A joint initiative between Maniapoto Māori Trust Board and The Lines Company to deploy renewable energy solutions on two Marae is underway with the installation of solar panels at Māniaroa Marae.
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) funded trial will see energy generated from solar panels traded through a technology platform. This will enable Marae to gift surplus energy to households of their choice anywhere on The Lines Company’s (TLC) network.
“The pilot will help to support the aspirations of Marae and whānau development as we look to new, innovative approaches for whānau-based energy solutions,” says Amber-Lee Elliott, Maniapoto Māori Trust Board (MMTB) Chief Executive.
“This opportunity allows us to understand energy solutions to further support Marae, hapū and whānau. We look forward to understanding the results of the pilot in the next six to twelve months” says Elliott.
Along with the more immediate benefits of electricity generation from the panels, TLC sees the pilot as progression towards major change within the energy sector.
“Generating electricity from renewable resources can help us facilitate the push towards decarbonisation,” says Mike Fox, TLC’s Acting Chief Executive.
“We also know, in the right locations, solar can provide equitable energy solutions for customers and address some of the more specific challenges we have operating our network in more remote areas.
“As an electricity distributor we are focused on enabling customers to connect Distributed Energy Resources (DER) to our network and importantly gear up for two-way flow, as excess energy is fed back into the network.
“Working with Iwi, we’ve modelled a DER solution which will deliver a range of positive outcomes for whānau across the greater King Country region” says Fox.
The first of the two Marae selected for the pilot had solar panels installed in late August. Māniaroa Marae – located north of Mōkau is an ideal location for solar generation, with each of the 18kW array set to contribute towards energy costs for five households through a peer-to-peer trading platform.
Māniaroa Marae chairman, Allan Batley says they play an important role as kaitiaki of the area and supporting the local community, with the project building on several upgrades recently undertaken at the Marae.
“Māniaroa Marae is honoured to be involved in the collaborative trial to generate energy which will help support our whānau and the Mōkau community in a more sustainable way.
“Our hope and aspirations are that this trial will help to future-proof renewable energy in the Mōkau area” says Batley.
TLC is in the process of finalising suitable locations for the second stage of the $200,000 pilot project, continuing to work closely with MMTB to help facilitate the move towards equitable energy outcomes across Maniapoto.
The year-long project is due to be fully delivered by November 2023, with insights and data from the completed pilot project utilised to help inform future renewable energy approaches for both Marae and TLC.