And this is what we do.
Applecross Community Company
Newsletter February 2015
January and February have been a busy time for Applecross Community Company. Directors have met upfive times for very productive meetings to discuss and deal with various matters. One of these meetings was a very useful and informative training session delivered by Rory Dutton of Development Trust Association Scotland which covered roles and responsibilities of Directors.
Notices have been served for the AGM which will take place in Applecross Community Hall on March 6th 2015 starting at 8pm. There are spaces available on the board, anyone who is interested in becoming a director should speak to one of the current directors for more information. Directors must be a member of the community company, membership is open to all residents of Applecross aged 18 years and over. Please speak to a director for more information. Membership and director nomination forms are attached and paper copies are available from the Applecross Inn and the Schoolhouse.
Hydro and Private Wires Scheme
The community company has sought tenders for the design and construction of the hydro and microgrid schemes. At the time of writing a decision no decision had been made on the preferred contractor. More information on this, our central project which has been under development for several years, is available in the form of questions and answers at the end of this newsletter. If you have more questions please ask a director or the local development officer.
The filling station is working far more efficiently since the new system has been installed. There have been some teething problems with it going offline however the majority of these have been resolved remotely by engineers in Dundee which is considerably less work for the folk who have kept it going in the past and had to physically reboot the system at the filling station kiosk. Hopefully these are just teething problems and will be investigated and resolved over the coming months as Applecross gets busier with visitors.
The Community Company toilets are experiencing their quietest time of year. However we provide access to these year round for visitors and locals alike. Sadly the toilets were subject to some mindless vandalism in December, but the offensive writing was quickly painted over. Many thanks to those who volunteered to help to do this.
Our broadband scheme AppleNet is entering its final phase and we have extended our offer of free installations for permanent residents of Applecross. If you wish to have broadband installed in your home please get in touch with either Sean Kilbride on 744475 or Zuzu Vojackova on 744379 to arrange installation. AppleNet is on Facebook also, please follow for updates. At present we have around one hundred customers connected to AppleNet. We have had some problems providing a reliable connection to customers on the north of the peninsula due to damage caused to the wind turbine which was powering the mast on Rona. However the caretaker on Rona has agreed to power the system by connecting the mast by cable to his own energy system, meaning it will now be much more reliable.
Applecross Energy Efficiency
The funding for this project finishes at the end of February. The community company directors are very pleased with the results of this project – particularly the hard work put in by Valerie and Zuzu. They have worked with and supported local households and businesses to tackle energy efficiency issues and learn about the potential to use renewable solutions. Surveys will be distributed to businesses, households and individuals in due course. Your time in answering and filling these in would be very much appreciated.
Applecross Community Company has entered into an online competition called The Big Energy Race. Anyone can enter as part of the Applecross Team and prizes include energy saving monitors and increased knowledge on energy saving matters. If you have some time please have a look. Links can be found on the AEE website and Facebook page.
Hydro Scheme and Microgrid: Questions and Answers
Why is Applecross Community Company planning to build a hydro scheme?
To earn a long term income for the community, which will be used to tackle priorities identified through community consultation. The scheme will earn from selling energy to the grid and to local people, but will also be eligible for Feed in Tariffs, a government subsidy provided to encourage the development of renewable energy schemes.
Why is some of the energy to be used locally?
The scheme is designed to generate 90kW, but SSE was only able to offer a 50kW connection because the grid in our area was not designed to export energy. We therefore carried out feasibility studies to see if the energy could be used locally by providing heat to properties nearby, which demonstrated that this was a viable and attractive option.
Where will the scheme be?
On Allt Breugach (the burn which runs through the fields opposite Craite Barn and into the sea next to the filling station. The intake will be in the hills above, with a buried pipeline to the turbine house in the field between the Smiddy and Craite Barn.
The microgrid will include Craite Barn, the Applecross Inn and most of the houses on Shore Street and the old Estate Office, subject to the agreement of owners & tenants. Buried cables will run from the turbine house to Craite Barn and to both ends of Shore Street, with a spur going under the road to the Old Estate Office.
How can we be sure that this is all going to work?
We have been advised and supported at all stages by experienced professionals, including staff at Community Energy Scotland and Local Energy Scotland, hydro engineers at Highland Eco Design, engineers at AECOM, hydrologists at MNV Consulting, legal advisors at BTO and Harper MacLeod, community shares specialists Co-operative and Mutual Solutions. No commercial lenders will agree to provide finance for a scheme until they have gone through all detail with a fine tooth comb to establish that it is viable and deliverable.
We have issued a tender invitation this week for an experienced full-time project manager to see the schemes through from start to finish.
What will happen to customers on the local microgrid if the hydro scheme is not producing electricity due to dry weather or maintenance?
There will be an automatic switch back to energy from the national grid; householders will not be aware of this.
Why would householders chose to buy energy from the local microgrid?
It will be cheaper than energy from the national grid, and instead of their money going to a big energy provider, it will stay in the community and be used to provide benefit.
Those not included in the private wires scheme will not be able to benefit from cheaper energy, which seems unfair?
We can only offer this to people in buildings close enough to the turbine house to make it cost effective and their heating systems must be electrically powered. Those not connected may be able to access support to carry out energy efficiency improvements which can be paid with from income from the hydro scheme, so that they can also reduce fuel bills.
How will the Community Company raise the money to build the hydro scheme and microgrid?
The cost of building the hydro scheme cannot be covered by grants, as this would mean it would not be eligible for Feed in Tariffs. We have formed a Community Benefit Society (sometimes known as a Co-operative) called Apple Juice, which will sell shares in the scheme. Those buying the shares will earn interest at a rate higher than the banks will pay on money in a savings account. There may also be tax incentives. We have also identified financiers which may be able to lend the balance.
We are planning a shares launch within the next few weeks and full financial details, business plan and all other information needed by potential investors will be available in full via a website and printed information.
As part of a consortium named the Community Microgrid Accelerator we have applied for grant through the Challenge Fund, which would cover the costs of installing the microgrid. The consortium is led by Community Energy Scotland and involves a total of nine community groups, all of which plan renewable schemes which have been affected by grid constraints. The organisation which manages this fund can also provide loans and we have requested a loan from them towards the cost of the hydro scheme. The result of the grant application will be known on 9th March, following interviews in Glasgow next week.
How much income will the hydro scheme and private wires bring to the community?
The figure will vary from year to year, depending on rainfall and the percentage at which the rent is paid to the landowner. It will also depend on how the hydro scheme and microgrid are financed; the bigger the proportion of costs raised through sale of shares the better, as a loan from a bank will be at a higher interest rate and will need to be repaid in full within a set period. A very approximate estimate would be a net average income of £25,000 per annum.
Applecross Community Company Directors: Judith Fish, Ewen Gillies, Ali Macleod, Jon Glover, Marion Gilroy, Jill Olsen, Elodie Matthews, Nick Goldthorpe
Staff: Alison Macleod (Local Development Officer), Valerie Hodgkinson (Applecross Energy Efficiency), Zuzana Vojackova (administration), Sean KilBride (Broadband Manager)
Company number SC342825 Applecross Community Company is a registered charity: SCO42865
Registered Office: The Schoolhouse, Applecross, IV54 8LU