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Community solar array brings sunshine to Burnham and Weston

NEW local energy company Burnham and Weston Energy CIC (Community Interest Company) is inviting local communities to Share the Sunshine with a £3 million funding pot for local community projects. Surplus income generated by the community solar farm (after operating and finance costs) will be used to support community projects and help local households struggling with their energy bills.

Burnham and Weston Energy owns one of the largest community solar arrays in the UK at Wick Farm between Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-super-Mare. The array is made up of nearly 36,000 solar panels which generate the equivalent of the electricity consumed by more than 2,000 homes yearly.

Jake Burnyeat, Director of Burnham and Weston Energy CIC, said: “The solar farm is expected to generate around £50,000 surplus each year over its 25 year lifespan – half will help support an energy and fuel poverty advice service, while the other half will go into the Burnham and Weston Sunshine Fund, to provide grants to local organisations.”

The Sunshine Fund is being managed on behalf of the project by the Somerset Community Foundation, with the first grants available in the summer.  Projects can focus on environmental, social and/or economic sustainability – this could include schemes to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, employment skills or low carbon community transport.

Further help and support will also be available from the new energy and fuel poverty advice service which being managed by the Bristol-based charity Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and delivered through partnerships with local organisations.

As a local energy company, Burnham and Weston Energy CIC will be governed by local volunteer directors and local people and organisations can get involved by investing in a solar bond offer to be launched shortly.

Local people and organisations can find out more at two drop-ins events to be held at:

  • The Hive, Beekeepers Room, Weston-super-Mare, Monday 11th June, 3pm-6pm
  • The Princess Theatre and Arts Centre, Pizey Room, Burnham-on-Sea, Tuesday 12th June, 12pm-3pm

Jake Burnyeat added, “The shift from a centralised fossil fuel-based energy system to one based on distributed low carbon and smart technologies creates the opportunity for communities to take back control of their energy systems, keep money in the local economy and make the energy production an asset for the local community.”

More information is available on the website

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