Affordable power needed in Chathams
Fri, 21 Sep 2012 6:24p.m.
By Tova O’Brien
The Prime Minister has returned from his first visit to the Chatham Islands, promising more funding for social housing and more affordable power.
The locals prefer to call themselves Chatham Islanders rather than New Zealanders, and there are some notable differences from life on the mainland.
The crayfish certainly seem bigger, and the power bills are astronomical. Fish processing plant owner Pita Thomas says he pays four times more than he would have to on the mainland.
“Our power bill's between $8000 and $11,000 a month.”
Until recently the island has relied entirely on diesel generators, so when two wind turbines were built it offered new hope. But without Government funding, islanders had to sign a long-term lease-to-own contract, and the power has never cost so much.
“[We] signed up for a 20-year contract, there's no way we can get out of that,” Chatham Islander Lois Croon says.
Instead of paying for the turbines the Government spent millions on a wave power generator, a project which has effectively flopped.
Today Prime Minister John Key made a pledge of $400,000 to build five new affordable homes.
Mayor Alfred Preece says these houses are needed, but not as much as affordable power.
“These are built for social housing, so really it's counter-productive if you have a nice home to live in but your power price is excessive.”
Last night while 3 News was working at the hotel, the power cut out for 10 minutes, which was nothing out of the ordinary we were assured. Apparently it happens three times a week.
Even Mr Key admits housing isn't the priority here and yet that's where the Government is choosing to spend its money.
Hydropower is the next big hope and Mr Key says the Government will pay for dams if they prove viable, but it could take years.
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22/09/2012 10:46:53 a.m.
Ross Elliot wrote:
An ideal site for a transportable nuclear generator. There has been a slow but inexorable turnaround as safety, portability and economic efficiency have all improved. So much so, that these are now seen as one of the greenest of options.
22/09/2012 9:09:45 a.m.
What about every house there set up with solar energy. I have a family member whose house runs totally on solar energy with solar panels on his roof and I think this is the way of the future - The Australian Power Companies reimburse their customers on any extra power generated by their solar panels-great scheme! Also what about using wind power, that would also be a reliable and cheap source or energy too - the options are endless....
22/09/2012 12:34:22 a.m.
Affordable?...how about FREE! Wind, Wave, Solar a solution not a plea for a foreign owned business opportunity to molest a profit from the residents. Who the hell are the people we Elect to do this job.
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