Bath & North East Somerset Council is investing in a new hydro-electric community-owned energy project on the River Avon.
The Council is making a loan to the Old Mill Community Hydro project located at the Old Mill Hotel at Bathampton Weir on the River Avon. The project has been developed by award-winning local community enterprise Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) in partnership with Mongoose Energy.
The existing, decorative water wheel at the site (installed c1987) will be replaced with a new modern water wheel, capable of generating enough electricity to meet the annual demand from over 20 typical homes. The new water wheel will include screens to protect fish and eels in the river.
Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Our investment into the Old Mill Community Hydro project, which is within my ward, working with local community enterprise BWCE, will help our area make the most of its renewable energy potential. It will also support further local community projects through the Community Fund.”
The Council’s £130,000 loan will cover half the capital costs of the scheme, with the remainder (£131,000) made up by investment through a community share issue.
BWCE’s community-owned energy model means that local people have had the chance to invest relatively small amounts of money in local renewable energy projects through a community share offer. This enables them to own a stake in the company and get a reasonable return on their money.
The scheme will contribute towards around 20 megawatts of renewable energy already being generated in Bath and North East Somerset. Collectively this is enough to power over 4,500 homes.
The scheme will generate an estimated £50,000 funding over its lifetime for BWCE’s Community Fund which, by the end of the year, will have re-invested nearly £100,000 of BWCE’s surplus income back into local community organisations delivering low carbon and fuel poverty reduction projects in Bath and the surrounding area.
Pete Capener, Chair of BWCE, said: “From a standing start in 2010, BWCE will soon become England’s largest community-owned, clean energy company by generating capacity. From the start our relationship with Bath & North East Somerset Council has been a significant factor in that success. We look forward to continue working with the Council in the future to create more opportunities to bring clean energy and ethical investment opportunities to the area.”
The Old Mill Community Hydro scheme is currently under construction and is due to be completed in December.
The Council has carbon reduction and renewable energy generation targets in its Community Energy Strategy and Core Strategy. This latest investment is designed to support the delivery of these objectives.