Continuing the momentum: energy hardship conference returns

Following the success of its inaugural event in 2023, the Reducing Energy Hardship Conference is set to return on 20-21 May 2024 at Te Wharewaka o Poneke, Wellington.

Co-hosted by Ara Ake, WISE Charitable Trust and Community Energy Network, the conference will focus on the state of energy hardship in Aotearoa New Zealand while highlighting innovative community energy solutions.

“Many people in New Zealand struggle with the cost of energy and unhealthy homes, which adversely impacts their health and financial wellbeing. Our aim is to bring together national experts from the community, energy and research sectors, alongside Government agencies, to build partnerships that will result in large scale improvements to how we address energy hardship,” says Gareth Cartwright, Community Energy Network Executive Officer.

This year's conference theme centres on identifying and addressing the root causes of energy hardship, alongside advocating for proactive measures to promote energy equity.

“Understanding root causes is crucial, as well as understanding that the community is key rather than providing solutions which aren't fit for purpose. The conference will provide a platform to encourage action among those dedicated to promoting sustainable energy and building resilient communities,” says Paul Scouller, WISE Charitable Trust General Manager.

Building upon the momentum of the previous year, the conference includes:

  • Keynote address: Deborah Hart, Chair of the Consumer Advocacy Council, will kick off the proceedings.
  • Panel Discussions: Expert panels will explore topics ranging from the vision of an equitable energy transition to the roles of the energy and industry sectors in driving change.
  • Initiatives and Innovation: Initiatives such as the Meridian Energy Wellbeing Programme, which was launched off the back of last year's conference, will be presented, alongside community energy schemes.

“Last year, we witnessed the passion and expertise of over 200 attendees come together to address energy hardship. We are excited to bring this energy to Wellington,” says Cristiano Marantes, Ara Ake Chief Executive.

The conference is sponsored by Powerco, Orion and Meridian, and supported by OMV and the Ministry of Innovation and Employment.

The full programme can be viewed here.