Residents of the village that was the centre of anti-fracking protests have formed their own renewable energy company.
Called REPOWERBalcombe, the new co-operative plans to install around £300,000 worth of solar panels on the rooftops of local buildings in Balcombe – hoping to meet around 7.5% of the electricity demand of the village.
It also hopes to provide all of the village’s electricity need with locally-generated renewable energy in the long term.
The co-operative launched its first project yesterday, signing a lease to host 19kW of solar panels on the roof of a cow shed at a family-run farm. In exchange, the farm will get 33% discounted electricity for the next 25 years.
Talks are also underway with around a further five sites, which could be fitted with solar this spring. Each project is expected to deliver at least a 5% return to investors during the 20-year lifetime of the scheme, while any profits will go towards a community benefit fund.
Joe Nixon, REPOWERBalcombe spokesperson said: “We all need energy but buying dirty fossil power from giant utilities is no longer the only option. Advances in renewable technology mean that communities like ours can now generate the energy we need ourselves, locally, in a way that benefits us directly instead of big power companies – and helps the environment instead of harming it. This is win-win for Balcombe and for the planet.”