New Plymouth, Greater Wellington hailed as energy efficiency leaders

Thursday 24 May 2012, 9:58AM

Two councils have netted top awards at the 2012 EECA Awards – one for excellence in reducing its own energy use and one for making local homes more energy-efficient.

New Plymouth District Council was last night (subs: Weds 23 May) named co-winner of the Public Sector Award for a rigorous energy management programme that has shaved $200,000 off its annual energy bill.

And Greater Wellington Regional Council won the Community Award for its rates top-up scheme that supplements the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart home insulation grants and allows homeowners to pay over time through their rates bill.

EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill said although the councils’ approaches and wins were vastly different, both demonstrated that by prioritising energy efficiency, the whole community benefitted.

“Effective home insulation and clean heat makes an enormous difference to families’ health, wellbeing and energy bills. By designing a financial mechanism to help people take up the Government assistance on offer, Greater Wellington has made a profound difference locally. It’s also having a far wider effect, as it’s now replicated in other regions.

“Meanwhile, New Plymouth has meticulously managed its own energy use, including transport fuel - and is now benefitting from sizeable financial savings. This is a project that many other organisations, public and private sector, could emulate. Both councils have taken a strong lead on energy efficiency and it’s local people in the long-term who are benefitting from their initiatives.”

‘Warm Greater Wellington’ was the first scheme of its type in the country to offer ratepayers funding to top-up the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart grant. Homeowners repay the council over time through the rates bill, making the scheme cost-neutral, and encouraging greater take-up of home insulation among people who couldn’t otherwise afford it. To date it’s helped insulate 3,500 homes and prompted other councils to offer similar schemes.

New Plymouth District Council has focused on managing energy since 2007, and brought an energy management expert in-house to drive its programme. Every major facility - civic centre, library, museum, aquatic centre right through to the waste water treatment plant – has had energy audits, resulting in improvements to lighting, heating, cooling and motor systems. Reviewing network charges and downsizing transformers alone, has brought annual savings of $53,000. Fuel consumption is also down by more than 56,000 litres a year. Combined, the energy savings are worth $200,000 a year – funds that are helping keep rates rises down.

The Community Award was presented in association with Principal Sponsor Fujitsu General New Zealand. Also recognised in that category were:

* T?wharetoa Settlement Trust  – Highly Commended for a five year, $6.5m project that is helping insulate 2,600 homes belonging to iwi members * Autex Industries – Commended for its programme to insulate the entire town of Foxton.

The Public Sector Award was sponsored by the Energy Centre, University of Auckland Business School. Also recognised in that category were:

* New Zealand Post Group - Co-winner for its Group-wide energy and fuel saving initiatives * Kapiti Coast District Council – Highly Commended for renewable energy and energy management projects * New Zealand Defence Force / Nature’s Flame – Highly Commended for the conversion of Waiouru Army Base’s 5MW boiler from coal to wood pellets

Across all 2012 EECA Awards entrants, the value of energy saved or generated over the life of the projects is $600 million, and the total CO2 emissions reduced or avoided is 1.7 million tonnes.

The EECA Awards are presented in association with Principal Sponsors EcoInsulation, Fujitsu General New Zealand and Vector.

For more on the EECA Award winners see

2012 EECA Award winners - full list

Supreme Winner: Air New Zealand Transport: Air New Zealand Large Business: ASB Small to Medium Business: Ecosystems and Whanganui PAK‘nSAVE Energy Management: New Zealand Post Group Innovation: Aurecon NZ and Dominion Salt Renewable Energy: Golden Bay Cement Public Sector: New Zealand Post Group / New Plymouth District Council Community: Greater Wellington Regional Council Outstanding Contribution: Jeanette Fitzsimons