Genesis Energy Schoolgen Launch


Acknowledgements were made to the following:

  • Dean Schmidt - GM, Corporate Affairs at Genesis
  • Maggie Twaddle - Schoolgen Programme Manager at Genesis
  • Cr David Lee, who has the Climate change portfolio at council
  • Kevin Lavery, our CEO, and other council officers
  • Teachers and representatives from our valued schools in Wellington

Ata marie!

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Welcome and thank you all for getting here so early, we know you all have busy schedules. This is an occasion worth rising early for - with plenty of good networking opportunities.

Thanks to Genesis for co-hosting this breakfast event with us this morning.

Council and schools can work together in many areas - road safety, school travel plans, Enviroschools, planting in reserves and our sports facilities, libraries, observatory and museums.

We are delighted to be partnering with Genesis Energy to bring their Schoolgen programme to 16 local schools over the next three years.

We are co-funding this project through the Council's Smart Energy Capital fund, which is all about working with partners to implement projects that can achieve scale and deliver reduced energy consumption, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased renewable energy.

This is a critical part of our renewed 2013 Climate Change Action Plan. Climate change is real. Climate change means we must adapt to rising sea level and increased storm events. As a responsible capital city, we must do our share of reducing emissions too.

As we were finalising Council agreement for the Smart Energy Capital fund, the most popular new initiative in last years we met with Dean and some of his colleagues to discuss partnership opportunities between Genesis and Council.

Very quickly both organisations narrowed our focus to the potential of bringing the Schoolgen programme to Wellington, at scale.

Cities around the world are on the coal-face of the issues of climate change and energy use and cities are often best suited to take action and implement projects on a local, community level.

Cities are in a position to lead while nations hesitate. Wellington’s Smart Energy Capital programme is about providing real leadership.

Schools are at the heart of our communities and we are absolutely thrilled to be working on practical, beneficial projects with schools on the issues of renewable energy and smart energy use. Clifton Terrace has been a great model to inspire us.

This partnership with Genesis and Wellington Schools is much more than putting solar panels on your roof. It is about informing and empowering students, teachers and school administrators to take action on renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change.

People sometimes resist thinking about climate change because it's too big an issue, the threats are huge and individuals don't feel their action makes a difference. Schoolgen makes a real difference and offers hope in a practical way.

We see five main benefits to this programme:

  • first is financial - the energy created by solar panels will help to reduce energy costs for the school.
  • second is environmental - the programme will result in reduced greenhouse gases. Energy produced by the solar panels means the schools will use less grid-electricity. Though NZ can be proud that it produces around 70 to 75 percent of its grid electricity from renewables, the remainder is non-renewable and has a corresponding carbon impact. The more we replace grid-electricity with local, solar electricity, the less greenhouse gases we'll produce as a city and country.
  • third is economic development - this programme will also help to grow jobs in the energy services and sustainable energy industries in Wellington.
  • fourth is social - this programme directly engages our young Wellingtonians on issues that are going to be critical in their life-time - energy and climate change, in a way that offers hope. We are often told more young people are needed in the engineering profession and programmes like Schoolgen are a way to encourage that.
  • And fifthly the programme reminds us how Wellington is sunny as well as windy! Sunnier than Auckland. Have a look at our online solar map to check out your school or home property.

It's important to note is that there is some Council funding set aside in the programme budget to help schools grow their solar panels beyond the 2kW standard. So for example, if your school wanted to invest in doubling the generation from 2kW to 4kW, Council can help. Maggie can explain how this might work when she explains the application and implementation process.

Also, for the participating Schoolgen schools, once Maggie and the team are well underway with implementing the programme, we want to work with the schools, Genesis and other partners to scope and implement best-practice energy management options for the schools. This is another way to help schools reduce costs through smarter energy use. I understand that the Ministry of Education property unit is interested in this as well so it is definitely an area with potential.

In a similar vein, for those schools that are interested, and I expect they will be, we can also provide support to help the families of students and staff to address smart energy use in the home.

I'd like to say that although our current partnership with Genesis is for 16 schools over three years, at Council we view this as the start of an ambitious relationship with the Capital's schools on the issue of smart energy use.

Over the next years we want to provide the opportunity for renewables and best-practice energy management systems to every school in Wellington. Our Chief Executive at Council, Kevin Lavery, will talk more about this later.

Thank you again for coming, we can't wait to get started and over to Dean and Maggie to tell you about how it all works.