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Ten Years of Community Energy

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ALIEnergy

ALIenergy is a local agency  that promotes better use of energy and local energy resources throughout Argyll, Lomond and the Islands. We help communities to benefit from improved energy education and energy efficiency and we encourage and promote the development of appropriate renewable energy sources that the area has in abundance, for the benefit of communities within Argyll.

Contact ALIenergy for free, impartial advice on how to reduce spend, maximise income and make your home more comfortable. In some cases, we can offer a free home visit. We offer free workshops to schools, community groups and health/social care professionals on affordable warmth. We have a limited number of free renewable heating installations available for priority cases.

We also promote community renewable energy co-operatives, support local energy markets and organise events. We can offer energy performance certificates, short training courses/workshops and project management services.

For advice on affordable warmth in the home, contact our affordable warmth team:

North Argyll: Tara (07867 681990) or Jenny (01631 565183)

South Argyll: John (07919 455933) or Rachel (07796 986351)

Renewable energy projects:

 

lynda@alienergy.org.uk

 


Other enquiries:
enquiries@alienergy.org.uk; 01631 565183 or visit www.alienergy.org.uk

 

Communities must see benefit from hosting wind farms – Davey

Reduced electricity bills if you live near a windfarm ?

Communities that host onshore wind farms could benefit from reduced electricity bills and investment in local infrastructure, Energy Secretary Edward Davey said today.

The comments came alongside the launch of a call for evidence aimed at ensuring that communities secure financial, social and environmental benefit from hosting onshore wind farms.

The community benefits consultation will seek new information on:

  • Barriers to community engagement and how to address these;
  • How wind farms could deliver wider environmental and social benefits to communities e.g. by providing grants for playgrounds;
  • Best practice in local consultation by developers;
  • Ways to maximise participation by local businesses in the economic supply chain for wind projects; and
  • Innovative ways to reward host communities, such as offsetting electricity bills.

The Government will also seek the latest information on the cost of onshore wind to confirm whether subsidies from April 2014 have been set at the correct level.

Energy Secretary Edward Davey said:

“Onshore wind has an important role to play in a diverse energy mix that is secure, low carbon and affordable. We know that two-thirds of people support the growth of onshore wind. But far too often, host communities have seen the wind farms but not the windfall.

“We are sensitive to the controversy around onshore wind and we want to ensure that people benefit from having wind farms sited near to them.

“This new call for evidence will look at ways to reward host communities and ensure that wider investment, employment and social benefits are felt locally.

“We must also ensure that our policies are based on the best available evidence, so that consumers are not over-subsidising any one technology. That’s why we are seeking new evidence on the cost of onshore wind.”

Energy Minister John Hayes said:

“This call for evidence is a recognition that both parties in the Coalition are alive to the need for fresh thinking about community engagement on onshore wind.

“Appropriately sited onshore wind has a role to play, but if we’re to make this work in a way that garners popular support, we’ve got to see a big improvement in how developers engage with local communities, new ways of ensuring a sense of local ownership and more obvious local economic benefits.

“The Government is open minded about how we go about this, and that’s what this call for evidence is about. It’s an opportunity for anyone with a view about onshore wind – proponents and opponents alike – to come forward with workable ideas and solutions.”

Clachan Windfarm Rebranded As Clachan Community Energy

Developer claims he wants it to be ‘a genuine community project’

The proposed Clachan Windfarm would consist of   9 Enercon E44 900kw turbines 55 meters to hub height; and 77 meters to tip height erected on land a short distance from Seil’s famous ‘Bridge Over The Atlantic’ . The proposal has stirred up considerable local opposition from Seil  residents, holidaymakers and yachtsmen, most of whom are concerned primarily about the visual intrusion and the potential effects on tourism.

The proposed windfarm from a point overlooking Puilladobhran

The proposed windfarm from a point overlooking Puilladobhran

 
Would-be windfarm developer Rory Young  says that  his  wish for ‘genuine community involvement in the wind farm benefits’ hasn’t taken root as he had hoped it would. He has therefore decided to rename the project as Clachan Community Energy  and has come up with some interesting proposals to allow greater community involvement.
 
Firstly, Mr. Young intends to set up a scheme (via Abundance Generation) that will enables people to invest directly in the wind farm from as little as £5.00 for a single debenture (share). Each debenture is expected to provide a 6% to 8% annual return over the lifetime of the project.  For those who are unable to invest due to financial constraints, he proposes setting up a locally-administered fund which will be gifted with a quantity of free debentures. These could then be distributed as appropriate.
 
The proposed  ‘community fund’ of about £80,000 per year would  be distributed according to the wishes of local residents in the three community council districts. Various options are being allegedly being canvassed. These include:

1. The fund to be distributed through the 3 Community councils (as already suggested)

2. Reducing energy poverty of local residents

3. Providing a subsidised energy tariff only available to local residents

4. Providing a subsidised loan fund to help support local businesses

5. Providing investment in local sporting clubs and activities for the local community

6. Providing a direct annual dividend payment to all local households – which could for example be spent in local businesses through a pre-paid card which gives a discount on locally sourced goods and services. (There may be other ways of administering this proposal, but the principle will remain the same)

7. Any other suggestions/combination of the above from local people.

He has also suggested that a portion of the fund could be ring-fenced annually for direct allocation to the three local primary schools
 
Mr. Young has promised to provide further information by mid August once he has established what the wishes of the local residents are.  Some might describe the timing as opportunistic, as  it is anticipated that the planning committee will be making a decision on this application in September or October at the latest. A spokesman for the local opposition group PACT (People Against Clachan Turbines) has reportedly describesd the proposals as ‘unpleasant’.

At the time of writing this article  no response to these proposals has appeared on either  the PACT website or on the blog on Mr. Young’s site, West Coast Renewables. Mr. Young invites people to comment on his blog.

Links

West Coast Renewables (the developer’s website)

PACT  (People Against Clachan Turbines) 

 

 

Argyll Grid Constraints Blocking Community Renewables

OFGEM say next review due in 2015

According to a joint statement from various Argyll community groups up to 10MW of community renewable energy projects in the county are currently on hold because of grid constraints. These projects have the potential to generate aan income of £1.5 million a year for local communities.

Weak radial networks mean much of Argyll’s grid is unable to cope with additional embedded generation beyond a  50kW threshold, and meanwhile there is no  way to link local energy consumption with local generation.

A spokesman for the community groups said:

“Iin addition to making a significant contribution to meeting national renewable energy  targets, communities in Argyll currently have a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure long term, substantial and independent income streams from renewable energy.”

OFGEM point out that grid upgrades have to be paid for by consumers nationwide, and say they will be addressing the issue of grid constraints in their next review in 2015.  The Scottish Government have said they are looking for ways round these choke points, but in the meantime Argyll communities are losing out.