The regional distribution network operator, Electricity North West, has announced a total of £30,000 in grant funds has been awarded to two community energy projects across Cumbria.
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 are:
- Energy Local Alston Moor, Alston Moor Community Energy, Cumbria: investigating how to bring a hydro scheme into community ownership.
- 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.
Kit England, volunteer director at Alston Moor Community Energy, said: “We’re delighted to have received such recognition from Electricity North West. This invaluable grant will enable us to test an innovative new model for local people to buy community owned renewables alongside energy from the grid. We’ll also be exploring using a local hydro power scheme, which if successful, could lead to it being purchased for use by the community.
“Weather conditions in the North Pennines makes it much trickier to commercially fund community energy; solar is less productive due to increased cloud cover while the planning conditions prevent us from deploying wind. This project is vital to our community, as it offers a chance to see if local people can buy their energy directly, keeping more money within the local economy. If viable, it would also be a significant step forward on the journey to a more low-carbon, climate resilient community.
“It’s fantastic to have the backing of Electricity North West – their endorsement truly supports our attempts to increase the role of community energy in the energy mix, ensuring a fairer, more equitable transition to a low carbon economy.”
Helen Seagrave, Community Energy Manager at Electricity North West, commented: “We’re delighted with our two Cumbrian winners who have shown a commitment to developing innovation in community energy. Both 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.”
In total, Electricity North West has awarded £71,000 in grants to six community energy projects across the North West.
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 Cumbria and beyond 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.