Trust helps RathMor to Go Solar
(Left to Right) Seamus Bradley from Altec Solar, Conal McFeely and Declan Ferry from Rath Mor, Jo Bird from Co-operative Alternatives, Conor Bradley and Caolan McLaughlin from Altec Solar.

Trust helps RathMor to Go Solar

15 June 2015

The Building Change Trust has helped Creggan Enterprises to team up with Northern Ireland Community Energy (NICE) to go solar.

NICE is supported by Co-operative Alternatives, delivering the Community Shares, Ready! project commissioned by the Trust, to increase awareness of Community Shares in Northern Ireland.

Development executive with Creggan Enterprises, Conal McFeely said: “We are delighted to work in cooperation with NICE which is a not-for-profit community benefit society established to create opportunities for the advancement of community owned renewable energy projects and low carbon energy services. As a not for profit Society, the financial benefits of the scheme stay within local communities.

The Ráth Mór Centre will be part of a unique and innovative project, using a number of carefully selected community buildings with suitable roofs across Northern Ireland. Community groups across Northern Ireland have been chosen for the installation of solar panels.

“These will reduce our carbon emissions, showcase low carbon technologies to local communities, provide an opportunity for local communities to own a stake in renewable energy and provide discounted renewable electricity to users of community buildings.

“We are also pleased to become a member of NICE as this demonstrates the importance of co-operative and community ownership in the provision of locally owned low carbon energy services across all communities. We look forward to the free installation of our new 48 solar panels at the beginning of June.

“The revenue generated from the sale of electricity will enable us to reduce our costs, make our contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions and assist NICE to advance greater community ownership of renewable provision across the region. Creggan Enterprises wish to acknowledge the assistance of both Co-operative Alternatives and NICE who have enabled us deliver this new opportunity at the Ráth Mór Centre”.

Karen Arbuckle, NICE Director said, "These last few weeks the management team have been extremely busy working with our community groups and local installers to schedule installations.  It is so satisfying for the Board to be able to put the Co-op's capital investment straight to work to generate those all important returns for our local community".

She explained NICE currently has approximately 30 community groups that would wish to avail of their solar offer.  In the first phase the project can install up to nine free solar pv arrays and these are being progressed on a 'first past the post' basis i.e. those whose roofs are suitable and can complete the necessary documentation first.

Karen advised “Creggan Enterprises is one of seven groups that have acted quickly and will reap the benefits of our super initiative.  We currently have two installations completed, five others including Rathmor programmed over the month of June and we are working with the others at final agreement stage to get the last couple which will fulfil our first phase project.  We look forward to Ráth Mór, Creggan's contribution to NICE.

Being a well-established social enterprise we will no doubt benefit from the knowledge and experience they will bring.  It is great to have other social enterprises and co-operatives on board, which is the ethos of what we are all about - co-operation, sharing, strengthening, to help make a difference for future generations”.

Jo Bird, from Co-operative Alternatives said, “NICE is a Community Benefit society which means they can recruit investment and members in a unique way.  Participating building owners and individual investors become members of the co-operative and co-own the enterprise on a ‘one-member one-vote’ basis”.

NICE is supported by Co-operative Alternatives, delivering the Community Shares, Ready! project commissioned by the Building Change Trust, to increase awareness of Community Shares in Northern Ireland.