Flying high with Kea Energy – sustainable and cheaper energy offered by innovative new supplier.
Words and images by Niamh McCarthy
Canterbury based electricity retailer Kea Energy may be smaller than the average energy provider but there a few advantages to using Kea Energy that are definitely worthy of consideration. For example free on-farm solar energy and significant power bill savings. Leeston local Campbell McMath is the founder of Kea Energy and his enthusiasm and expertise in sustainable energy solutions is certainly impressive. In 2005 while working as a Control Systems Engineer with Orion, Campbell and his family built four hydro turbines on the family farm on the Rakaia River with an output of 360 KW (roughly 400 homes worth of electricity). With his extensive knowledge of electricity and power consumption he decided to investigate the benefits of solar power and excited by the results he established two solar sites for neighbours in the district. Fast forward to 2018 and Kea Energy operates numerous solar sites and along with the hydro turbines produces 30% of the Orion/Christchurch exported embedded generation power supply.
Being a smaller company means Kea Energy devote plenty of time to building up a client profile and gaining insight into the clients power demands to formulate the best solution for saving money on power consumption. A unique point of difference with Kea Energy is their offer of PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) to customers – for Campbell PPAs are a “win win” for the customer. Kea Energy will install a solar array at no charge to the client and in return the customer agrees to purchase electricity through Kea Energy for a 10-year period – normally 10% cheaper than their current provider. “PPAs are a fantastic option for rural clients, you get a solar array free of charge and instantly lower power bills” he explains.
Kea Energy uses the highest standard of both panels and mounting gear for their solar stations. Should a customer require a solar set-up without a PPA in place Kea Energy also offers a turnkey service. They offer fixed panel systems as well as innovative tracked solar systems, meaning the panels follow the path of the sun for maximum gain and can also be faced to dairy sheds during maximum output periods during milking. Campbell enjoys all aspects of the build from consultation, to design and build “it’s a great feeling once its all installed and laid out and I get a great buzz from seeing what we’ve achieved.”
The company is also currently experimenting with the latest in battery technologies from Fronius and Tesla with the aim of increasing self consumption ultimately leading to increased cost saving and off grid reliability for customers. For users in remote areas and power networks suffering occasional outages the company believes future solar self-sufficiency could be a key advantage for farm operations. “Technology and battery power are becoming more and more affordable these days and self consumption is something that more of our customers are interested in” Campbell confirms.
As well as offering significant energy savings having on farm solar energy is obviously attractive to rural customers adopting a more environmentally friendly approach to agriculture. In the current climate of increased environmental audits and potential ETS changes to come, adopting greener energy solutions at no cost to the farmer is a great opportunity. Thanks to monitoring software on the panels all energy saving can be seen via an app and customers can log in and see at a glance how many tonnes of carbon dioxide, trees and even kilometres have been saved in emissions.
Local Brookside based dairy farmer Matthew Ward is one of Kea Energy’s satisfied clients. After an initial scope Campbell and his team estimated his farm would save between $2000 and $3000 annually on power bills and that’s exactly what happened according to Matthew who is 100% satisfied with his PPA. “Campbell was really easy to deal with, we have a ground mount system on a piece of land that we don’t use anyway, he gave us an opportunity to use a green energy source at no cost and as a dairy farmer these days it’s nice to be seen as doing your bit to be clean and green, and save money obviously.” For a personal quote and energy saving estimate Ruralco customers can contact Kea Energy directly on 03 390 0009 or call their Ruralco Account Manager Tracey Gordon on 0800 BUY ATS.
Kea Energy is operating in Orion, EA Network, Mainpower, Network Tasman and Marlbough lines areas.
Contact Ruralco Energy Account Manager Tracey Gordon today to find out more
Tel 0800 RURALNZ (787 256)
Mobile 027 652 2133