TLC scoop Community Initiative of the Year
31 August 2023
The Lines Company’s (TLC) ground-breaking approach to empowering the use of renewable energy to ensure resilience of Maniapoto marae and equity through affordable energy for whānau secured top honours at the 2023 New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards winning the coveted Community Initiative of the Year title for their Māniaroa Marae solar project.
The annual industry event recognises achievement, innovation, and excellence throughout the energy sector. The Community Initiative category sponsored by Eagle Technology specifically recognised the wide-reaching benefits of the project to TLC, Te Nehenehenui and the Māniaroa Marae community.
Implemented in collaboration with Te Nehenehenui and electricity retailer Ecotricity, and with funding support from MBIE, the project saw the installation of an 18kW solar array on the wharekai at Māniaroa Marae, located near Mōkau. The installation of this solar hardware, coupled with an innovative peer-to-peer trading platform, enables excess solar energy to be shared with five local whānau within the project. To date the five whare involved in the project have each saved an average of $100 per month on their energy bills.
TLC chair Bella Takiari-Brame says she’s extremely proud of the project and recognition of the successful collaboration among TLC and the community.
“Winning this award is a significant acknowledgement of how a small EDB like ours can be highly innovative and make a truly positive impact for the community.”
TLC chief executive Mike Fox was delighted at the industry recognition acknowledging the close connection TLC has between the network business and community.
“Our vision is to grow communities with energy, and it’s projects like this one where we’ve really been able to shine – helping others on our network to benefit from new technology and renewable energy generation”.
“These types of projects are really helping to facilitate the push towards decarbonisation, while providing real benefits for those who wouldn’t normally have access to solar.
“I’ve loved seeing and hearing the stories from the participants on how they’ve not only saved money, but changed how they use power – for the benefit of their health and wellbeing.”
A first in New Zealand, TLC have tested the community-based model and are now looking to scale the application for the benefit of more in the greater King Country area.
The award win comes just two short years after the electricity distributor won the Outcomes Category award which recognised TLC’s efforts to positively impact energy hardship on the network. Those initiatives included support via Maru Energy Trust, target customer care programme, and nearly $1m in lines charge relief during COVID-19.
To learn more about TLC’s community solar projects, visit: https://www.thelinescompany.co.nz/network-projects/