by John Kaiser
Keeping power generation, distribution, and retailing local and community-owned
I have been intending to write this article for more than three years and it was finally written in September 2015. Since March 2015 I have been working part-time for the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT) as a volunteer, which means I now have access to updated information on its wind turbine initiative. I therefore acknowledge the input Scott Willis of the BRCT has had in factually checking this article and suggesting a few changes to accurately reflect the current position of the project.
“News Flash. Massive climate change event prevents food supplies from reaching Dunedin.” This is becoming an increasingly likely scenario. I had in mind the Christchurch earthquakes and the major snows a few years ago which closed all access roads to Blueskin Bay when I started to write this article, but this week alone we have had our own earthquake and a record rainfall which was so close to being a damaging flood.
by Peter Dowden
Editor’s note: For many residents of Blueskin Bay, full-time employment means a 20 kilometre each way commute to Dunedin, made more challenging by the bulk of Mt Cargill lying between here and there. It’s a challenging trade-off: enjoy the beauty and peace of living out of the city – and often find a lower-footprint lifestyle than we would in a city neighborhood – but use an embarrassing lot of petrol getting from here to there. Peter Dowden takes a historically minded look at our travel options, projects that have been tried in the past, and projects that might be resurrected in the future. Does being employed in town really mean being car-dependent? For most of us, for now, probably, though occasional travelers have other options. And all of us can look back at what has been tried and look ahead toward what alternatives we might be able to develop in the future.
This is a tale of two parts. The first is about personal efforts to build and operate a more energy efficient home, as are members of the Blue Skin Bay community, and the second examines the massive changes that are beginning to occur in electricity production and supply systems worldwide. These changes are being driven by a combination of rapidly advancing technologies, consumer/citizen demands and society’s attitudes to electricity supply, marketing and business models. As has happened numerous times over the last 200 years, the rapid adoption of a new technology by some parts of society has been strongly resisted by others, often business interests, because of perceived threats to their goals. Government policies also play a key role, particularly if they entrench particular technologies and systems and hence limit needed changes. The threat of stranded capital is also a strong impediment to change in electricity generation and supply systems as in other capital-intensive industries.