Church asks council for $500,000 loan to fund solar farm

wind farm

Work on a multi-million dollar mega solar farm to power 400 low-income households in one of Hawke’s Bay’s poorest suburbs could begin as soon as December, the developer says.

Power to the People, a charitable trust formed through St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Hastings, hopes to set up a solar farm in Flaxmere with a loan from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC)

The Trust is approaching individuals and looking at crowd-sourcing to fund the rest of its $2.7m budget.

It expressed interest in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund, which recently announced a $68m boost for the Hawke’s Bay region.

But since the project was not about job creation, it did not progress to a funding application.

Project manager Chris Lambourne said the funding should be secured by December. “It’s just a matter of getting signatures on cheques.”

The Trust is looking at various sites, weighing up the pros and cons including the potential multimillion-dollar costs.

Three two-hectare sites were being considered for the solar farm, with some lease options available.

Lambourne said about 4000 panels would be installed. “Once the go button has been pushed, it should take about six months to install.”

Profit was not the goal, which was why the project sought most of its funding through grants.

“Solar panels still have to pay their way, but it’s about giving those profits to the community with cheaper power,” Lambourne said.

The “pilot programme” could be extended to other suburbs if it proved successful.

“It’s really about targeting health issues, which flows on to things like school attendance and employment.”

“There will be great long-term benefits … we’re talking about a 30-year timeframe.”


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