Seven local groups have been awarded a share of a £50,000 Northern Powergrid funding pot aimed at enabling new energy schemes to flourish in local communities.
The Northern Powergrid Seed Fund, which is in its second year, offers support for community energy projects in the inception stages and seed funding to provide support such as expert advice, feasibility studies and meeting spaces.
Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for the network which delivers electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses across the region, set up the fund to help fledgling energy generation, reduction, management or purchasing projects get off the ground – as well as encourage more creative renewable energy projects across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.
The fund, which is managed in partnership with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, received 21 applications from a range of community-based organisations and groups.
An expert panel including representatives from Community Energy England, National Energy Action, Northern Powergrid, Pure Leapfrog, Halltech Energy Partnership and Voluntary Organisations Network North East (VONNE) assessed the entries and selected the groups to become Northern Powergrid Community Seed Fund winners:
- Yorkshire and Humber: Yorkshire Energy Partnership (York), Yorkshire Energy Doctor CIC (Bradford), and Syrian Community of Leeds (Leeds);
- North East: HartlePower CIC (Hartlepool), International Community Organisation of Sunderland (Sunderland), Allen Valleys Enterprise Ltd (North Pennines), and Seaton Valley Community Partnership (Seaton Valley, Northumberland).
Anne-Claire Leydier, Sustainability Manager at Northern Powergrid, said: “Bringing energy production and energy efficiency in communities is a growing feature of the low carbon economy. As the region’s electricity distributor, Northern Powergrid has a significant role to play in helping those who want to take control of their bills and reduce their energy-associated carbon footprint.
“Last year was a challenging year for community energy with some changes in national policy so this year’s Seed Fund will provide vital local community energy funding. We congratulate the winners and look forward to following their projects as they prepare to get them off the ground in the months ahead.
“In addition to nurturing Community Energy, the Seed Fund is helping us understand the sector, how we can help, and also why we should help. With the support of last year’s winners, we’re finalising research to explore and demonstrate the social benefits of community energy projects in the communities we serve.”
Karen Daglish, Principal Advisor, Community Programmes at the Community Foundation, added: “Through our environmental research with LEAF and Vital Signs, we know that local giving can make a huge difference to community groups that seek to encourage people to ‘do the Green thing’ and so contribute to a more sustainable future for the planet.
“By addressing environmental issues through the Seed Fund we indirectly tackle social issues as they are intrinsically linked. For example, community garden and allotment projects help to reduce social isolation, encourage ‘green exercise’ and enable access to low cost , healthy fresh produce as well as reducing food miles and improving green spaces. Energy efficiency projects can tackle fuel poverty as well as reducing environmental impact. Recycling and redistribution projects enable access to low cost goods and items for those who are most vulnerable, in addition to diverting resources from landfill and reducing consumption.”
Northern Powergrid Seed Fund award-winning projects:
- Community Energy Kick Starter by Yorkshire Energy Partnership will extend out the support provided by the Seed Fund by providing professional advice to five non-constituted community groups who wish to save energy or generate renewable energy. More on: http://www.yorkshireenergypartnership.org.uk/
- GreenMoor Community Energy Saving Advice by Yorkshire Energy Doctor CIC will work with community organisations in the Lidget Green and Scholemoor areas of Bradford to tackle fuel poverty through a community-wide initiative. For more information, including a launch event on 3rd February, visit http://www.yorkshireenergydoctor.org.uk/greenmoor-community-energy-saving-advice-37.html
- The Sub Zero project by Syrian Community of Leeds aims to educate Syrian asylum seekers and refugees to reduce energy waste, decrease expenditure, switch between energy suppliers and how to apply to the Warm Home Discount Scheme. Visit the organisation’s ‘Syrian community of Leeds’ Facebook page for more information.
- HartlePower CIC Renewable Energy and Advise by HartlePower CIC will deliver a pilot energy advice project, which will help people to switch energy providers and save money through energy saving measures in the home. Income generated from the project, through referral payments received from major suppliers, will be reinvested into further developments within HartlePower. Visit http://www.hartlepower.co.uk/portfolio/energy-advice-2016-supported-by-northern-powergrid/ for more information.
- The great energy meet by International Community Organisation of Sunderland will run a series of thematic workshops in the Sunderland area, engaging traditionally hard-to-reach people with issues related to energy use. Find out more by visiting http://icos.org.uk/
- Feasibility study for small-scale hydropower by Allen Valleys Enterprise Ltd will explore the potential for a number of potential hydro sites on the Rivers East and West Allen. Visit http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/AllenValleysCommunityBenefitSociety.aspx for more information.
- Seaton Valley Energy Storage Initiative by Seaton Valley Community Partnership will investigate the possibility of making use of a local asset (‘The Cut’ in Seaton Sluice harbour) as an energy storage and generation unit. For more information visit http://www.seatonvalley.org.uk/seatonvalleycommunitypartnership/default.asp