Peria School in Northland proving John Key wrong

According to John Key, solar PV systems “never pay for themselves, let alone reduce energy bills, or make money”.

That was his response when we launched our Solar Homes policy earlier this year.

Well, Peria School in the far North is about to prove the PM wrong.

I was up there on Monday cutting the ribbon on the school’s new 10kw solar PV system….


Or make that, flicking the switch…..


The panels will pay for themselves within four years and save the school around $6,000 every year – money that can then be spent heating the school pool and hiring a music teacher.

It’s hoped this will entice kids to school who don’t currently attend.

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Peria, a Decile 2 school, has a roll of only 35 yet it’s been paying nearly $900 a month for power. The school’s treasurer decided that this was no longer sustainable. This is the case for many schools – especially rural ones – around New Zealand.

Our schools are a perfect candidate for solar energy, because the vast majority of their power usage is during the day, when the sun is at its peak.

Plus, when children learn about clean energy and energy efficiency, they learn skills they will carry through the rest of their lives.

According to Peria School Principal Jason Tāne, “Solar just made so much sense. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the affordable thing to do.”

Here is Charlie Maria (and her twin Izzi on my left) explaining why solar makes sense.

While up North I was also lucky enough to catch up with Doubtless Bay Rural Women ..

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Test some manuka honey hives with Paihia beekeeper Brad Windust….

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And generally enjoy being in the company of some incredible people doing amazing things for the future of our kids.

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2 Comments Posted

  1. Nice on Peria and Russel

    Reduced energy consumption is the first item on the agenda or course but closely followed by sustainable capture of solar and wind energy.

    Our future energy supply will have to be not only carbon neutral as possible but also sustainable with effective reuse of materials.

    Unfortunately local generation and grid distribution have been dealt a heavy blow with first the breaking up and corporatisation of our national generation and distribution system followed by effective privatisation of it.

    Shareholder interests and short term profit now come before national interests. Worse than that the various corporations will fight any initiatives to make power cheaper to the consumer and strive to retain their centralised generation ahead of fostering local supply.

    Our chances of local generation from individual residences using solar or wind, depend on the economics of feeding excess generation back into a grid. Grid owners and power retailers have not shown a benign acceptance of this way forward.

    If the entire system was still Govt owned then cohesion between local generation and grid supply would be far easier to regulate. Govt backing would allow rationalisation of grid tie procedures, rates of payment and the critical cost of grid tie facilities for households.

    Instead we fight John Key et al, face lies and obstruction aimed at increasing corporate shareholder profit. Meanwhile profits and consumption through less efficient distribution will both rise.

  2. Whilst I do not willingly rush in to support John Key, Peria School’s solar PV installation does not actually “prove” him wrong. To make inaccurate political point scoring in this way opens the Green Party to unneeded criticism. We need to be clear on what he said: “will never pay for themselves”; will not “reduce energy bills”; and “will not make money”.

    John Key is clearly incorrect in saying that Solar Homes installations will ‘never pay for themselves’. They will. Solar Homes installations will also clearly ‘reduce energy bills’. However care needs to be taken to include the cost of capital interest rate that reduces the savings from energy bills.

    Where he is not wrong, is his statement about ‘not making money”. For some Solar Homes, the installation will cost the householder money.

    And here’s why. John Key’s reference was to the Solar Homes policy which is focused on homes and not commercial premises or schools. The daily load profile of some (most?) homes will be such that excess home gen cannot be used to offset electricity purchases and thus must be fed in to the grid at a price lower than the unit cost of purchased electricity. Even given the Power NZ policy position of “a fair and reasonable sell price (for home gen), some households will lose money. It takes only one such household for John Key to say that he was proved correct.

    Schools though, particularly when heating a swimming pool, are more aligned with the generation profile of solar pv panels and so will likely save the school money.

    A “Solar SME” or “Solar Schools” policy would be a world class policy position that would work really well I think because of that different load profile.

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