Our mission is simple: we aim to generate the equivalent to 100% of Balcombe’s electricity demand through community-owned locally-generated renewable energy.
- To meet at least part of this target in 2015.
- To use part of any profits from the enterprise to reduce local energy demand through education and by financing energy efficiency improvements to community buildings and local homes through our community benefit fund.
- To ensure that the financial benefits of harnessing local clean energy resources are primarily shared amongst local people.
- To take responsibility for meeting our own energy needs in a way that does not contribute to climate change or harm the prospects of future generations.
- To be sensitive to local landscapes and environments; and to develop responsibly by targeting roof space first, and by adhering to the industry best practice.
- To inspire other communities by demonstrating and promoting the benefits of community renewable energy as a positive, viable alternative to the current energy production model.
- To unite the local community in support of these goals.
We have had many positive responses from landowners in the surrounding area and key local community buildings whose support will be vital to this project fulfilling its aim, and who stand to gain from significantly lower electricity bills. The energy harvested by REPOWERBalcombe will be fed into the national grid, making our village proportionately self sufficient whilst helping to increase the overall amount of renewable energy in our national electricity supply mix.
Our intention is to maintain local control of our village energy project by raising the required funds for our first phase of work through a community share issue. This will open first for people living in West Sussex, and only afterwards to investors from further afield. We hope you will want to become a shareholder and member of the co-operative. By developing and owning our own power generating capacity locally we will also be helping to power Balcombe’s local economy.
And it won’t only be the host buildings and shareholders who benefit. A portion of the profits from REPOWERBalcombe will be fed back into a community benefit fund which will be used to reduce our collective energy spend (for example insulation and recycling initiatives), to improve our local environment, and to develop other local renewable energy resources.
This is about our community and how we can live comfortably and responsibly. REPOWERBalcombe will showcase what is possible when a community comes together. We see this as the start of a repowering the present for the future and hope you will be part of it!
How we started
REPOWERBalcombe was born of the inspiring belief that communities can take responsibility for their own energy supply and that this can be done in a way that is clean and sympathetic to the environment. In September 2013 an open meeting was held at local Bramble Hall with a view to set up a community renewable energy project in Balcombe. Inspired by the positivity of the project, a group of around 14 locals started to lay foundations toward making this a reality.
How do we do this?
In 2015 we aim to raise approximately £350,000 to fund around 300kw of solar PV. This is the equivalent of 10% of Balcombe’s current electricity usage – or enough to power 60 of our village’s 760 homes. REPOWERBalcombe will sell investment in the form of shares to the community. Shares can be bought from £250 upwards with the controlling investors coming only from the local area, and we aim to provide shareholders with returns of around 5% per annum. We predict that Phase 1 will also raise around £5,500 each year for our community benefit fund.
Our first site to sign on the dotted line were the third-generation family-run Grange Farm on Crawley Down, who are now hosting a 19kW of solar array on their cow shed in exchange for 33% discounted energy for the next 25 years. We are now building on our success at Grange Farm and working with two local primary schools to install solar PV on their roofs.
REPOWERBalcombe is not a protest group
Balcombe’s recent close encounters with hydrocarbon energy production have certainly been an important factor in making us all think about the energy we use and where it comes from – and helped to give us the idea to start our community power company as a positive way to engage with these issues. But we want to be really clear that REPOWERBalcombe is in no way a protest group, and you don’t need to be anti-fracking or anti-drilling to support the project.
REPOWERBalcombe is a co-operative social enterprise – a legitimate business being run for the good of our local community. We are not anti- anything: we are pro-community and pro-renewables. We recognise that Cuadrilla’s drilling back in 2013 divided opinion in our community, and our aspiration for REPOWERBalcombe is to move on from that debate to unite around something positive instead. So regardless of your views on drilling for oil and gas in Sussex, we really hope that you will want to become a part of this exciting project.
Want to get involved?
If you live locally and would like to be kept up to date with news on our project’s progress, please enter your email address in the box on the right to receive our newsletters and find out about opportunities to get involved (you can choose to opt out of these emails any time of course). If you are from outside of the village and surrounding area but would like to support REPOWERBalcombe’s mission, please visit the Back Balcombe website to find out more about how you can help.