Prime Minister and local MP, David Cameron today visited the British Gas Green Streets community in Tackley, Oxfordshire, and backed their ambitious plans to cut their energy use by 25%.
The community has revolutionised the way it generates and uses energy thanks to solar panels and a ground source heat pump installed by British Gas on the local village hall, and through the use of nearly 600 energy saving measures, ranging from efficient light bulbs to energy monitors, in local homes.
The measures, combined with simple changes in behaviour, such as switching off appliances when not in use, has had a big impact on the community. As well as dramatically cutting electricity costs, the village solar panels generate an income of around £2,900 a year through the Feed-in Tariff scheme, which pays the owners of solar panels for the renewable electricity they generate and use. The village hall's ground source heat pump cuts its heating costs and also earns a yearly income of £1,800 through a similar scheme called the Renewable Heat Incentive.
The hall is a registered charity and run for the benefit of the village and is at the heart of the community. It offers facilities for hire, function rooms and a successful community shop and cafe.
During his visit, the Prime Minister spoke to members of the community whose homes have benefited from simple energy efficiency measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation, radiator panels, cylinder jackets and energy monitors as well as seeing the village hall generate its own power and heat.
Tackley school has also been involved in this project and has benefited by a greenhouse to support their eco friendly agenda. The 7-8 year olds of the school have put their ideas about energy conservation on paper and produced a picture depicting what energy conservation means to them. David Cameron presented Ellie Gilllman with a certificate and small prize for her winning entry. (There were also 5 highly commended entries from Thomas Norton, Freya Smith, Katie Sale, Phoebe May and Anya Crocker).
Green Streets is a groundbreaking project that has seen British Gas invest £2 million into microgeneration and energy efficiency measures in 14 communities around the UK. Each of the 14 communities is competing to see which one can save the most energy as well as generate the most renewable energy. The winner will receive a further £100,000 to invest in a local green energy project of their choice.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
"This is the Big Society in action. I have been supporting this project from the beginning and it's great to see the people of Tackley and British Gas working hard and getting results, which are cutting energy bills and generating clean, green energy.
Gill Withers, a resident of Tackley Village said:
"It's wonderful to have David Cameron visit us and see the changes we have made in our community. The British Gas Green Streets project has created a real buzz in the village. Community buildings are a great opportunity to generate energy and engage people. Everyone in Tackley can see our solar panels, learn how they work and understand what renewable energy is all about.'
Phil Bentley, Managing Director of British Gas, said:
"We're seeing a genuine groundswell of interest around the country from communities such as Tackley, wanting to do their bit to tackle climate change - and their own fuel bills - by generating their own clean, green energy and reducing the amount of energy they use."
For more information about British Gas' Green Streets programme, visithttp://www.greenstreets.co.uk/
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About British Gas Green Streets
British Gas Green Streets is a groundbreaking project helping Britain's communities to be greener.
British Gas has provided £2 million to fund microgeneration and energy efficiency measures to help 14 communities around the UK save and generate energy. From inner city communities in London and Birmingham to a remote Scottish island, the 14 communities came up with their own innovative energy projects and were selected from almost 100 applicants to take part in Green Streets 2010/11.
These communities are competing until April 2011 for a chance to win up to a further £100,000 to invest in a local environmental project of their choice.
What are the communities doing?
Each community had to come up with an energy project that focussed on saving energy, generating energy locally and engaging their wider community. Each project had at least one community building and at least 15 homes. As a team, they worked with British Gas to execute their plan.
British Gas provided advice and support, as well as technological expertise and carried out energy assessments on all of the residential homes to help all those participating to choose how to save energy.
The work in Tackley includes:
- Tackley village hall:
- 9.2kWP solar PV generating 2,752 through FIT and saving 4 tonnes of CO2 per year
- 16kW Ground Source Heat Pump saving 18 tonnes of CO2 and over £2,900 and £1,800 through the RHI
- Domestic homes
- 78 local homes awarded £50 towards energy efficient products
- 4 village prize draws of £3,000 and one of £10,000 awarded to local families for microgeneration installs
- 23 loft and cavity wall insulations
- 585 energy saving products including 15 eco kettles, 393 light bulbs, 20 standby savers, 100 radiator panels, 4 cylinder jackets and 53 energy monitors
How did British Gas select the 14 projects?
In October 2009, the Green Streets team set off on a tour of Great Britain to select 14 communities from 40 community shortlisted applications. The shortlisted communities were invited to pitch their idea to a panel of experts who had the tough task of deciding the winner of each heat. The panel consisted of a British Gas Director, an expert from the Centre for Alternative Technology and where possible, someone from the local media.
The panel was chaired by the Institute for Public Policy Research who ensured the decision was fair. 12 projects were selected at the heats plus 2 ‘wild card' places which were allocated after all of the heats had taken place.