"This fund will provide much needed resources into the development of community energy projects across our region. Im sure we'll see increased awareness of the benefits community energy brings."
Helen Seagrave, Community Energy Manager
The regional distribution network operator, Electricity North West, has announced a total of £71,000 in grant funds has been awarded to six community energy projects across the region.
Following the launch of its Community Energy Strategy last year, the grant fund is designed to support projects that put community and local energy at the heart of communities. In particular, projects that demonstrate how they can help engage communities in energy issues, support vulnerable customers and / or reduce fuel poverty. Successful projects also looked at delivering new ways of working, fit for a smart, flexible low carbon grid.
The winning fund projects across Cumbria, Lancashire and Greater Manchester are:
· Energy Local Alston Moor, Alston Moor Community Energy, Cumbria: investigating how to bring a hydro scheme into community ownership.
· Eco Warriors, Burnley Boys and Girls Club, Lancashire: a project led by the children who will learn how to reduce their own carbon footprint and become Eco Warriors in their community.
· Energy Justice Salford – buying community-led local wealth, Carbon Coop, Greater Manchester: a new user-led approach to deliver energy efficiency measures to households, particularly those in fuel poverty.
· Fuel Katao, Paisay Bachao (Save fuel, save money), Kashmir Youth Project, Greater Manchester: bi-lingual energy efficiency advice and tools for the Kashmir community in Rochdale.
· Community owned energy supply, Burneside Community Energy, Cumbria: a project looking at developing the business case for community owned energy assets to supply a new housing development in Burneside Cumbria for the benefit of the whole village.
· Provisions of electronic displays for solar generation, Oldham Community Power, Greater Manchester: electronic displays for 4 schools with community owned solar panels to show the children how they work and engage them on energy issues.
Graham Vernon, Centre Manager at Burnley Boys and Girls Club, said: “We provide an important platform for education projects with children and young people who may otherwise feel disillusioned by learning. As part of this, our Eco Warriors wanted to reduce the Club’s carbon footprint in a bid to help the environment, especially in light of Burnley being named as within the top 10% of deprived areas in Europe.
“Thanks to the Electricity North West grant, we can now explore more cost effective and environmentally friendly heating as well as replace our existing lighting. Over a three-month period, the Eco Warriors will monitor the usage of electricity, record the data and develop evidence they can share with the wider community, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. This will have a two-fold benefit – sharing the research-based benefits of carbon reduction with the community, and physically reducing the carbon footprint of several community buildings, businesses and private homes.
“Our Eco Warriors are all extremely excited to be empowered by Electricity North West; they see this as an opportunity to share their findings with other leading organisations, with a view to using this project as a pilot scheme that could eventually be rolled out nationally.”
Helen Seagrave, Community Energy Manager at Electricity North West, commented: “We’re delighted with our six winners who have all shown a commitment to developing innovation in community energy. Each have demonstrated how they will effectively engage with all corners of the community, particularly children and vulnerable customers, to raise awareness of the benefits of community energy across our region.”
Electricity North West launched its Community Energy Strategy in June last year and its key aims are to respond to customers’ needs, create new mechanisms for community and local energy groups to engage with them and search for locations on its network where community and local energy can be deployed for multiple benefits. The company has also launched a series of Community Connects workshops along with a regular newsletter to keep communities informed.
Helen Seagrave added; “This fund will provide some much needed resources into the development of community energy projects across our region and I’m sure will see increased awareness and understanding of the benefits and possibilities community energy brings. We will be launching the next competition later this year and will also be hosting an event in September to invite the winners to present the findings of their projects.”
For further information on Electricity North West’s Community Energy and local energy Strategy click here.
To sign up to Electricity North West’s Community Energy newsletter, click here.