On Parliament’s fourth sitting day of the new government, 350 Aotearoa delivered a petition with the names of more than 2,600 New Zealanders calling for the Government to back community energy projects. Green MP Scott Willis accepted the petition from 350 activists, one of them wearing an inflatable sun costume. 350 Aotearoa has been calling on the past and incoming government to back community-based energy projects, to allow communities to implement local solutions, cut emissions and address energy poverty.

Executive Director Alva Feldmeier – who delivered the petition said, “Clean, homegrown energy has the power to protect our climate and usher in a new era of abundant, resilient and affordable energy for all. People in Aotearoa want the foundations of our communities to be resilient and sustainable for ourselves and for generations to come. The new climate minister Watts was talking a big game on climate saying the government signed the global pledge of tripling the world’s renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. We’re calling on Energy Minister Simeon Brown and the new government to further invest and support community and kaupapa Māori energy projects who are already leading the way across Aotearoa.”

“The percentage of renewable energy in our electricity grid peaked in the 1970s, and our reliance on coal and gas has increased since! It doesn’t have to be this way. With the right leadership from central government, we could see community-led renewable energy projects popping up across Aotearoa, boosting local economies and being a critical part of the just transition to renewable energy. Community energy is a no-brainer: it keeps money in local communities, makes our energy system more resilient in the face of climate disasters, and helps households out of energy poverty.”

Photo by Danny Stevens

The petition comes after a government-commissioned report found that 300,000 New Zealanders are experiencing energy hardship.

“In the past 30 years, household power bills have risen by 79%, while commercial rates have dropped by 24%. We need communities to be handed back control over the electricity they use in their homes and day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, many of our large gentailers are trying to hold back new renewable energy initiatives, for example squatting on windfarm consents and actively preventing renewables from being built. There is not a level playing field for communities wanting to be involved in the homegrown energy revolution. A strategy for Community Energy Projects and associated targets could change this” said Feldmeier.

In August this year, 350 Aotearoa produced a short film documentary about existing Community Energy Projects in Aotearoa titled ‘We can produce our own Power’ visiting the unsung heroes who have been quietly redesigning their communities to improve energy access and resiliency, address energy poverty, create jobs, support the community, and tackle climate change, showing the many benefits to local renewable energy.