Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Community Energy Trumps Gales and Romance

Valentines Day this year brought no let-up in the storms so I was really pleased to see about 40 people come to the Transition Cambridge Energy Group forum on Community Energy – many of them even came by bicycle.  The program featured three local schemes in various stages of completion: Mike Brettle talked about the Gamlingay Wind Turbine project, installed in May last year, Andy Rankin described the Reach Solar Farm project, now waiting for planning permission, and Stuart Dyer gave us an update on the Cambridge Community Energy company, which hasn’t definitely got a site yet but we are sure enough to go ahead and register the co-op. Also Paul Rewrie of PR Accountants described some tax breaks available to renewable energy investors. Cambridge is rather a slow starter compared to Oxford, with several installations already completed, but people commented to me how exciting it is that things are happening here too at last.

There didn’t seem to be much controversy about whether or not community energy generating schemes are a good idea. There were questions about the financial side: Can I use my pension fund to invest? (Answer yes but you won’t get all the tax breaks you do normally) and: Will you only allow local investors? (For Reach it seems that local will definitely include Cambridge).

Also there were concerns about the equipment: Which bit of a wind turbine usually fails after 20-25 years? (answer none, they may last much longer, but they are often upgraded before then anyway).

Mike made some very interesting recommendations about how to get support from local residents – their planning application got twice as many positive comments as negative ones which is amazing for a wind turbine project. The CCE scheme probably won’t need planning permission but Reach is in planning now and we are keeping our fingers crossed.

You can download some of the slides from the presentations on the CCE website here and on the Reach website here. Also both websites let you signup for a newsletter and if you are interested in helping to get CCE going let me know or use the email address on the website contact page.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic news. Any news on that solar farm in Royston? Would be great to work together with residents of villages near proposed projects - perhaps they can get to work on their neighbours who only see solar farms as an eyesore and are blind to the benefits...