NZ makes solar power accessible to all

By Leah Te Whata

Solar power is now available to all NZers through a monthly online subscription. Climate Change Minister, James Shaw is backing the worlds first virtual solar power plant.

Minister Shaw says, "It knits together all of the houses that have got rooftop solar and batteries, not just so those houses can have power but that they can work as a community to provide power to the grid."

SolarCity is connecting communities to a national solar power grid while cutting electricity costs and reducing the countries carbon emissions.

Residential power prices have risen 80% since the '90s. SolarCity CEO Andrew Brooth says they’ve developed a strategy to provide solar panels to families with no installation fees and a promise to reduce power bills.

"For everyday families who have been overcharged for power by a huge amount over the past 20 years, it's a great way to power your home," says Brooth.

The Government has pledged zero carbon by 2050. Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the virtual solar power plant is a step in the right direction in achieving this goal.

"This helps us to get towards a 100% renewable, clean, green, zero-emission electricity generation, New Zealand needs to significantly increase the amount of electricity that we generate over the coming decades as we switch to electric vehicles and so on and it does so in a really clean way."

And for every twenty connections, SolarCity is offering free solar panels to marae, kohanga reo and community centres while training and employing rangatahi to carry out installation and maintenance.

Brooth says, "It's really important for New Zealand and iwi across the country to embrace solar power if we're gonna give not just the next generation but the following generations a fighting chance against climate change."

There are currently 3,000 families generating 39-gigawatt-hours of power per year with SolarCity but they're hoping to get 50,000 on board by next year.