North East Cheshire Community Energy (NECCE) fears their community solar scheme cannot go ahead due to the Government’s proposed plans to savagely cut support for rooftop solar energy systems.
Before the last election its parent group, Transition Wilmslow, was encouraged by Government support to start a community benefit society to invest in local energy generation and provide funds to plough back in to the wider community. This would build on the work Transition Wilmslow has done with Wilmslow Town Council doing household energy surveys, using a thermal imaging camera.
NECCE has been working hard for the last 9 months to identify suitable community buildings, raise awareness and set up the right structure, engaging with students who were keen to reduce costs for their school. They were particularly excited about getting solar panels on Wilmslow High School as it was spending over £100,000 per year on its power bill.
The benefits would be:
- cheaper electricity for the school
- a rate of return to people who invested in the scheme
- income for a community fund.
In August, our local MP, George Osborne said:
“I am happy to support you wherever I can.”
Andrew Backhouse acting chair of NECCE has said that many people have been very keen to invest into something local that will:
- pay them a level of interest
- reduce our carbon footprint
- help local schools generate their own electricity
- help children learn about this in the process
- and cut their costs.
This is now unlikely to happen!
The expected policy change is going to stop any chance of progress. We understand that the Government might want to reduce the cost of energy in the short term – but they should be thinking long term to cut carbon emissions further, taking advantage of local investment, and doing more to boost local community involvement.”
Here’s what Caitlin a sixth form pupil at the local school said
“I think it’s disappointing that the government has changed their stance on the Feed in Tariffs (FITs) considering their huge positive effect on the UK’s energy supply. The initiative’s removal has had a major impact not only nationally but also locally. Our school could really have benefited from solar panels, both environmentally and financially, not to mention the valuable learning resource that would have been created”
The community group have written to George Osborne asking him to support their cause and back subsidy for solar, but so far he is awaiting a response from the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
If you want to know more about community energy locally, or to ask for help in reducing your energy consumption, contact Andrew on Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org or 01625 537087
More details of NECCE are on – http://necheshirecommunityenergy.org.uk/