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'Electric Village' will generate dialogue

GISBORNE will be the first place in New Zealand to create a hub designed to put the community at the forefront of conversation about solar power and other emerging energy technologies.

The Electric Village concept will be developed by Gisborne’s Eastland Group and will open at 37 Gladstone Road in September.

“The energy sector is undergoing rapid change,” said Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd.

“From personal solar generation to batteries, electric bikes and cars, emerging technologies could have significant benefits for our community economically and environmentally.

“It’s essential that we start the conversation now, and talk about what’s happening internationally and what could happen here.

“We want to understand what people think about the future of energy and how they see our region being powered in the coming years and decades.”

Mr Todd described Electric Village as “a genuinely village-like concept and approach — a dedicated place where everyone in the community is welcome to drop in and share their ideas”.

It is intended to be a “one-stop shop” for energy ideas and advice that will showcase interactive exhibitions and information about the past, present and future of energy technology.

Electric bikes and vehicles will be another highlight, along with findings from the company’s local solar trials.

People will be able to talk about their own electricity usage and get practical, easy-to-action advice on how to make homes more energy-efficient.

The region’s first high-speed electric vehicle charger, which will offer free charging for six months, is just a few steps away between Electric Village and the Emerald Hotel.

Earlier this year, Eastland Group hosted workshops to learn more about new energy.

“They told us that Gisborne and the wider region is ideally placed to become a leading light in the adoption of emerging technologies,” said Mr Todd.

“They wanted to know more about electric vehicles, solar generation and the future of the electricity sector.

“They were also very clear that we need to collaborate as a community to develop a vision that we can all work towards.”

Last year, Eastland Network launched a solar research trial to collect real world data on personal solar generation over a two-to-five-year period, the “ongoing’ results of which would be another feature of the Electric Village concept.

A website, Facebook page and other social media platforms will also be launched.

“With Eastland Network, it’s our responsibility to keep the lights on for the region,” said Mr Todd.

“That responsibility extends to exploring new ways in which people can take advantage of the advances in energy generation, storage and delivery.

“This is an exciting project for us and the community. We’re looking forward to working together towards a bright and innovative future.”