Millions of pounds to be distributed by solar power farm for the next 25 years
PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 April 2018
A solar farm providing power to thousands of homes in Weston and Burnham will donate all its surplus income to community projects over the next 25 years.
Burnham and Weston Energy CIC is expected to generate around £3million in surplus income until 2043, with £50,000 per year available for nearby energy schemes.
Half of the money will initially be used to support a grant fund managed by Somerset Community Foundation, while the remaining 50 per cent will go towards a fuel poverty advice service to help households who struggle with their energy bills.
About 10 per cent of homeowners in the area are living in fuel poverty.
The advice service will be managed by Bristol-based charity Centre For Sustainable Energy, and delivered through Somerset organisations.
The 50-acre, 9.3 megawatt site, based in Wick Farm, holds almost 36,000 solar panels, which will generate electricity for more than 2,000 homes.
The not-for-profit company has now pledged all surplus income generated by the solar farm, after operating and finance costs and returns to bondholders, will be used to support nearby organisations and homeowners.
Director of Burnham and Weston Energy, Tom Cosgrove, speaking at a Burnham and Highbridge Town Council’s meeting on Monday, said: “As a community interest company we can dictate what we spend our profits on.
“Our aim is to distribute funding to parishes within 10km of the solar farm.
“Energy costs Burnham and Weston £360million per year and almost all it leaves the economy, but our project is a step towards a future of generated energy from renewable sources, and the value of our energy economy being retained locally.”
A community bond offer will enable people and organisations to get involved, including the appointment of volunteer directors as suitable people who are knowledgeable about the surrounding area.
Lynda Wookey and Denys Rayner, of Highbridge and Bridgwater respectively, are both due to be appointed to the board on completion of the bond offer.
Tom added: “With our new energy system, there are opportunities for villages and towns to go back to generating their own energy again and in doing so energy can become a benefit, rather than a burden, to the economy.”