Bee Warm fuel poverty scheme launches

Gawcott Fields Community Solar to take on local energy poverty this winter

A local energy and fuel poverty advice service funded by Gawcott Fields Community Solar CIC is to be launched this winter. The scheme will be managed by Milton Keynes-based charity The National Energy Foundation and Citizens Advice Aylesbury Vale.

The scheme will offer a range of services to the local community, including free impartial advice on cutting energy bills, finding a cheaper tariff and heating homes affordably and efficiently. In some circumstances the team can also offer home visits and grants and financial assistance for energy saving measures, such as insulation and boiler replacements.

Citizens Advice Aylesbury Vale and the National Energy Foundation’s friendly Affordable Warmth Network team will be holding local events and advice workshops to help the community reduce their energy spend and to ensure homes are ready to keep them warm and well this winter. In addition, free training is now available for frontline health and social care staff, community organisations and other agencies who work with vulnerable members of the community to introduce the support that is available and how to make referrals.

The 4 megawatt community solar farm on the outskirts of Buckingham has been generating electricity and income from the sun since last June. Surplus income from the solar farm (expected to be around £20,000 per year and £2million over its 30 year life) will be used to support community organisations and energy projects in the local area. As well as supporting the energy and fuel poverty advice service, a grant fund for local sports projects will be launched later this year.

CfR managed the development and finance the project, and provides ongoing company and asset management support to the Gawcott Fields community interest company.

A community bond offer, which completed earlier this year, enabled people to invest in community solar farm and raised over £420,000. The rest of finance (over £4million in total) came from loans from Santander Bank and Social and Sustainable Capital. Power to Change also provided a grant to help increase the social impact in the early years.

Keep track of the project on the Gawcott Solar website: www.gawcottsolar.co.uk

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