Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Homemade power banishes the bills

Charmaine Watts hasn't had a power bill for eight years.

Her family of two adults and three children are one of hundreds around the country generating their own electricity.

With power prices on the rise, the $20,000 the Watts spent installing solar panels, a small wind turbine, storage batteries and wiring is starting to look like a good investment.

"I don't need to worry about power cuts," said Ms Watts. "It's just like a normal house. I flick the switch on my computer or my DVD player and away I go."

Watts is the head of the Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand, a group representing small-scale wind, hydro and solar power generators. Nobody knows exactly how many families generate their own power, but together it's thought they make between 5 and 6 megawatts of power a year - a drop in the bucket when measured against Meridian's planned West Wind wind farm near Wellington and its 142 megawatt production.

"Anyone with a roof has the potential to make their own electricity."

Mr Prior said solar generation would be affordable for most people only if the Government followed Germany and Australia and subsidised renewable power. "The market exploded in Germany. Manufacturers couldn't make enough panels," said Mr Prior. "The trouble here is the Government gets a return from state-owned renewable generators like Meridian Energy, so there's not much incentive to provide subsidies."

"We've saved something like 10,000 tonnes in carbon dioxide since 2000 by using natural, renewable energy."

More from the NZ Herald.

No comments: