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Sustainable energy project is the Brightest Spark

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Mike Rathbone (left) with Geoff Stuart, Hutt City Council
Mike Rathbone (left) with Geoff Stuart, Hutt City Council

A project to make wind and solar power possible for local schools is the winning entry in council’s Bright Sparks competition.

Called the Dunamis Project, it is the brainchild of Maungaraki man Mike Rathbone who won $1500 plus business advice from Grow Wellington to make the project happen.

Naenae Primary School will pilot the project which involves the local community lending money to the school to invest in wind and solar power systems to reduce the school’s power costs. In turn the school will be able to pay the community back with savings from their lower energy usage and in time use these savings to invest in other projects.

Competition organiser Geoff Stuart says Mike’s idea stood out from the rest for its focus on long term sustainability and community.

"It’s not only schools that will benefit from this initiative but the wider community as the technology being explored will allow people to access interesting data on energy usage. It’s a project that will also encourage our young people to think more about the energy they use and hopefully that is a lesson that will last a lifetime," he says.

Mayor Ray Wallace who attended today’s winners’ celebration says he was impressed with the calibre of entrants.

"I know we have talented people across our city and some of the brightest chose to enter this competition. It was my pleasure to help announce the winners today and I look forward to seeing these projects come to life.

"I also want to acknowledge our generous sponsors, law firm Thomas Dewar Sziranyi Letts, Weltec and Grow Wellington, who made this competition possible. Their financial support and own commitment to innovation have been crucial to the competition’s success," he says.

Other winners are:

Second place: Emily Innes and her idea Little Bloomers: a delivery and collection nappy service aimed at local families. Emily wins $1000 plus business advice from Grow Wellington.

Third equal place: Dean Bentley and his idea Car Wash Diverter: a device that diverts soap water from driveways to berms or lawns when car washing. Dean wins $500 plus help from Weltec to develop a prototype.

Third equal place: Naenae Primary School and their idea Bee-Positive Honey: a community beehive to pollinate the school’s existing vegetable garden and fruit trees. Honey produced will be sold to fund more beehives and planting. The school wins $500 plus business advice from Grow Wellington.

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