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Tauranga City Council are helping householders in the Bay of Plenty city to install solar hot water systems by offering free building consents in the latest Long Term Plan

“It’s great to see the council helping our community to address the twin challenges of rising electricity costs and climate change”, said Marcus Baker, Apricus NZ, a Tauranga-based solar hot water distributor.

The announcement by the council comes on the back of a report showing Kiwi households paying 80% more for their electricity than in 1990, according to the Electricity Pricing Review by Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods. ()

“Power prices are continuing to rise and there is increasing concern about our environmental impacts while solar technology has improved enormously.  There has never been a better time for people to significantly reduce their energy use with solar hot water.  The average household uses up to 45% of the energy they buy just to heat water,” said Marcus Baker.  “Many people have already invested in low energy lighting, domestic appliances and heating.  It makes perfect sense to focus on the biggest energy user in the home, the hot water cylinder.  A modern, efficient solar hot water system will provide at least three quarters of people’s annual hot water use, cutting your power bills by around a third.”

The Bay is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand making it an ideal location for householders and businesses to reduce their power bills and environmental impact with solar.  Tauranga City Council are the latest council to encourage households to install solar hot water systems with free or discounted building consent fees.  Hamilton, Whakatane and Western Bay Councils have had free building consents for solar water heating for a number of years.  Auckland Council have a fixed fee of $250 for approved installers, with no council inspection required.

The elimination of building consent costs for solar in Tauranga has been widely praised in the community.  “The Sustainable Business Network is thrilled that Tauranga City Council is making it more affordable for people to install solar hot water systems,” said Glen Crowther, SBN regional manager.  “This will hopefully lead to more systems being installed in Tauranga, resulting in reduced electricity bills and decreased carbon emissions.”

In the 2018 – 2028 Long Term Plan Tauranga City Council announced that solar hot water systems will benefit from rates-funded consent costs.  This means that any building consent fees for installing a solar hot water system will be covered by the Council.  There will be no cost to the householder for the consent application.

Jo Wills, Cory Simkin and cat Ada, of Mount Maunganui, have recently installed an Apricus solar hot water system.  Jo Wills was one of many people who made a submission on the TCC Long Term Plan in support of reduced consent fees for solar hot water installations.

“I advocated for free solar consents in my Long Term Plan submission to help other people access the technology, so I was delighted to learn of the council’s decision,” said Jo Wills.  “I’ve worked in the field of sustainability for the last decade and try to practice what I preach. Installing a solar hot water system at home was a logical choice.”

This story has been covered by local media, helping to promote solar hot water systems in our community.