Power to the peopleLast updated on 11/05/2016
High demand for low cost electricity has prompted an energy co-operative to launch another round of its programme to install solar panels free of charge for charities and community organisations.
Almost 40 bodies have already expressed an interest in the solar energy project that should see their electricity bills slashed in half.
Northern Ireland Community Energy (NICE) aims to raise £130,000 through a share offer to fund the installation of panels for up to ten charitable and community organisations.
Last year NICE raised £150,000 with its first community share issue enabling them to install solar panels to benefit 13 organisations.
NICE Director Karen Arbuckle said: “Thirty seven organisations have expressed an interest this time round. Because we were able to achieve so much last year it has given us the incentive to go ahead with another project. There is huge demand for solar panels but unfortunately we won’t be able to facilitate everybody.”
The community share enables the public to invest in the project with a minimum purchase of 250 shares and a maximum of 20,000 shares at £1 each. NICE received pledges of around £20,000 before the new share offer was even launched. The offer will close on May 31 2016.
NICE is run by a group of volunteers dedicated to renewable energy and co-operative models. The co-operative delivers a return of approximately 4% to its investors as well as investing in a community fund providing for energy efficiency projects to tackle fuel poverty in Northern Ireland.
Karen Arbuckle added: “We are all unpaid volunteers with a belief in renewable forms of energy. Northern Ireland is very far behind the UK and Europe where co-operatives like NICE are more common. We are only the second renewable energy co-operative in Northern Ireland along with Drumlin Wind Energy.
“Our work is all about empowering communities to become economically more sustainable while reducing energy costs and consumption to help stop climate change. We would like Northern Ireland to have more co-operative initiatives like ours and make renewables the norm. There is no reason why it can’t be the case here.”
For more information go to: www.nicommunityenergy.org