The Otaki Energy Co-operative was formed by a few enthusiasts who wanted to help their community, i.e. Otaki, to become more resilient in the world of rising power prices and the ongoing discussion using more renewable energy in light of the diminishing oil resources. Otaki’s vision in becoming a power house of new technologies aiming at energy efficiency was the obvious choice. Everybody pulls at the same strings and even the college students are heavily involved in learning and experimenting with energy related subjects.
A Co-operative was seen as the best way of forging ahead and bringing an extra layer of community independence to it.
The Co-Operative then took a stand at the Sustainable Home and Garden Show in Paraparaumu in late March 2015 to test the waters and to see if there was an interest among the Kapiti Coast inhabitants. The response was overwhelming with over 80 people showing interest and wanting to be kept in the loop.
It became clear, that we had to change the name as many of the interested people thought it was limited to Otaki only. After several brainstorming exercises we decided on trading name of Coastal Energy to embrace the Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua. The idea behind this was not only to get more members but also to enable the Co-op to negotiate better deals for its members in the long run.
We worked over the following months to fine tune what requirements the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) required and what our strategy was going to be. Business plans, marketing and publicity strategies followed and we worked on our website content. At the same time we looked at different product options for our members. We then set the 1st Nov 2015 as the public launch for Coastal Energy.nz and advertised the event.
What a great turn out. About 50 interested people came to the launch on Sunday afternoon – proof that we are on the right way and that community groups want to take matters into their own hands and pursuing local, community-owned energy projects. Support from our partners (Electra Energy, GlenDimplex, Kiwi Bank) and some displays (different lighting options, tools measuring power consumption) helped to illustrate options for Co-operative members. Thanks to local businesses for the sponsorship of refreshments (CoralTree, Arigato Mum’s Sushi, Oz Hot Bread Shop).