Whether the solitude of isolation and social distancing has brought you relief or joy, whether you’re loving cooking every meal or craving your next kebab and whether you’re relishing the opportunity to learn a new language or yearning to be in the pub, there’s one thing we can all agree on; coronavirus has brought out our local communities in all their glory.
Suddenly, Paul from next door is offering to do a milk round, Olivia from across the street is leaving baked goodies at your doorstep and everyone outside is waving hello from a safe 2 metre distance. In short, our communities are out in full force.
Could this be the time that local energy in Aotearoa New Zealand has been waiting for?
Underlying all local energy movements is a desire and need for greater transparency, local resilience and social equity. Why should Paul next door be paying double what you’re paying for the same service and level of use?
If you’re lucky enough to be generating your own energy with some shiny panels on your roof, you may not know it, but you have the power to enable social and community equity. By selling or even gifting electricity to people in your community to power up their isolation workouts, everyone could pay a fair price for the same privilege.
However, being ‘local’ sometimes isn’t enough. You’ve got to be ‘smart’ too, and this is where technology platforms like ours can play a key role. ‘Smartness’ is accessing multiple streams of data about locally produced energy and using it in new ways, matching that data with others and creating value for communities.
At Our Energy, we’re positioning ourselves as an integral part of successful local energy movements, collecting crucial data that’ll help improve and sustain them and sharing this data with larger and more established players who have the leverage and influence to really make a difference.
In this way, Our Energy is both local and smart. We support local ownership of energy and community decisions whilst also ensuring necessary and valuable information is fed into wider systems that help keep our energy system affordable, reliable and sustainable for everyone.
Now that our worlds have shrunk so drastically, you might be seeing the same people on your daily stroll or be having regular ‘street parties’ with your neighbours. With our friendship groups out of reach, we’ve turned to our local communities for social interaction and support. Whether this lasts beyond lockdown is to be seen, but we reckon it’s here to stay. It’s taken a global crisis to drive community thinking and neighbourliness and if there’s a silver lining to this worldwide catastrophe, it’s just that.
So, could local energy movements, too, finally have their time in Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to coronavirus and play their part in building a more prosperous and sustainable future for us all?