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Idealog Podcast: Flick Electric's Steve O'Connor on Electric Village and the future of energy

Flick Electric Co. CEO Steve O'Connor chats with Idealog about Electric Village and the future of energy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Late last year, Flick Electric Co. partnered with shareholder Eastland Group to launch Electric Village, a New Zealand-first, community-focused energy hub in Gisborne.

Electric Village is a one-stop shop for energy ideas and advice and a place where the community can interact with the changing world of energy technologies, with the hopes of inspiring new and engaging conversations about the future of energy future. “Regional New Zealand has the most to gain from the abundance of new technologies that are coming. It’s exciting to imagine Tairāwhiti leading the way nationally,” says Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd.

The space, located in the heart of Gisborne, features a number of interactive exhibitions about the past, present and future of energy. It’s designed so people can pop in and learn about electric vehicles, e-bikes, solar and other emerging technologies, glean home energy efficiency tips, and more.

The hub is Flick’s first retail space in New Zealand, and was opened soon after the company won the Disruptive and Breakthrough Innovation category at the NZ Innovation Awards (read Idealog’s story about that here).

But Flick CEO Steve O’Connor says there’s much more to it than a retail space – and much bigger implications for the future of energy. “We are experiencing so much change in the electricity industry it was a natural fit for Flick to be part of this hub where people can be exposed and learn first-hand about the disruptive technologies out there,” he says. “It’s also an opportunity for people to come in and chat to one of our Flicksters, learn more about our model and see how they might be able to save money on their power bills.”

The Flick model is innovative to say the least. In short, it gives customers access to the wholesale cost of electricity, which changes every half-hour. Using world-first, personalised online tools, customers have visibility into live power prices, giving them genuine choice over what they pay for the electricity they use.

Flick is also powering the region’s first fast-charging electric vehicle station, which is located outside Electric Village on Gisborne’s main street.

Flick’s partner in Electric Village, Eastland Group, owns Eastland Network, the electricity lines company for Gisborne, Wairoa and the East Coast; Eastland Port and Eastland Generation, which includes geothermal and hydro electricity generation plants. Eastland Group also runs Gisborne Airport.

Eastland chief executive Todd believes the Electric Village initiative will position the region to take full advantage of the rapidly changing energy sector – and set an example for the rest of Aotearoa.

“We’re excited that Tairāwhiti (the east coast of the North Island) is taking the lead by establishing New Zealand’s first energy hub. Emerging technologies could offer significant benefits to our community, both economically and environmentally. We hope that locals will play an active role in sharing their ideas on how our region could be powered in the future.

“Teaming up with Flick is an important part of this collaborative model. Their genuinely innovative approach is helping us to understand how people use their power, how this might change, and how we as an infrastructure company can adapt and deliver what the community needs.”

Yet the implications really do go deeper – and wider. But don’t take our word for it. Just listen to this podcast with Flick’s O’Connor and hear it for yourself.

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