As well as generating an income paid as interest to investing members, Wight Community Energy is set up to provide significant local community benefits. Over the course of the Homestead project, surpluses will be paid into an independent community fund, established to support local projects. Criteria for eligible projects will include carbon reduction, energy efficiency and reducing fuel poverty.
Allocation of the annual contribution to the community fund will be subject to a vote by members at the AGM.
In 2019, Wight Community Energy were delighted to be able to grant £7,000 to the Footprint Trust to support their fuel poverty programme, and in particular the continuation of home visits to advise people on energy saving and reducing their heating bills.
Those who receive a visit from Footprint Trust advisor go on to save between £200 and £300 a year on their energy bills. It is also estimated that, on average, each household will reduce their energy consumption and CO2 emissions by around 10%. (These figures are calculated using Energy Saving Trust measures). However, the home visits have wider benefits for vulnerable residents beyond the energy savings. By ensuring houses are sufficiently heated, this work helps to avoid hospital admissions triggered by the cold (e.g. respiratory infections and asthma attacks), and the Footprint Trust advisers are also able to recommend trusted suppliers and contractors should a householder require repair work.
Ray Harrington-Vail, the Trust’s General Manager explained that this grant also acts as a catalyst for the Footprint Trust to attract more funding for their crucial work, “we are always asked by funders how much of our income comes from the island – they expect the local community to be helping. Now we can say that we get a grant from a local community energy company and that helps to bring in more external money.”