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Free solar panels for every New Zealand school

Free solar panels for every New Zealand school

Nelson, 17 July 2014 – A new energy initiative launched today aims at providing free solar panel systems to every New Zealand school.

The solar4schools program, (offered by a consortium of Nelson based businesses including NZ SolarFarms and Glenn Roberts Electrical) is planned to roll out progressively throughout the country over the next 12 months.

The program offers competitive power pricing through NextGen Energy, which has been newly established as a social enterprise business specifically to donate its profits to the program and other community based asset development programs.

The school community, teachers, parents, friends and local businesses can all sign up to the program through NextGen Energy, which then donates a fee for each now power account plus a percentage of the aggregated power spend of the total school community, in essence a virtual buying group.

These accumulated funds then pay for the solar photovoltaic system to be installed on the school roof. The system, designed to last for 25 years is wholly owned by the school, and will benefit them financially from reduced power bills and from an income derived from surplus power exported to the grid at times when the school is closed.

Once the system is installed, the school continues to receive an equivalent amount from the power company each year in the form of a cash gift to the school board.

Mark Binskin, Manager of consortium member Solar Smart Energy, says “Schools are the ideal match for solar power, as they typically use the bulk of their energy during the day when the panels are producing electricity, but the capital cost has up to now been a barrier for most schools”.

NextGen Energy spokesperson, Richard Oswald, adds “The latest CPI figures out today [SUBS: MBIE figures] show power prices increased by over 4 percent in the past 3 months alone. We tried for over a year to gain the interest of the power companies in supporting the program, but in the end realised that the program would only be sustainable if we created our own retail power company to support it”.

The region’s leading electrical contractors Glenn Roberts Electrical, who have worked with NZ SolarFarms on solar installations at Nelson Airport and the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology are firm supporters of the technology. Director Josh Roberts said that they were looking forward to working across the country with the solar4schools scheme, “Schools are at the heart of our communities” he said, “and anything we can do to enable them to spend less on power and more on education must be a good thing”.

NextGen Energy Ltd is established as a social enterprise business, and has been created specifically to support the solar4schools program. Currently undergoing registration with the Electricity Authority, the company will over time establish itself as a renewable energy generator and retailer, and has plans to extend the school scheme to charities and other community groups.

Glenn Roberts Electrical is a specialist electrical servicing and contracting company to Nelson’s commercial and residential market. They have extensive experience in all types and sizes of projects, specialising in architecturally designed homes and commercial buildings.

Solar Smart Energy was formed in March 2013 as a subsidiary of Glenn Roberts Electrical, a Nelson based family owned electrical contracting company that has been in business since 1992 and has extensive experience in both residential and commercial electrical projects large and small.


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