Apologies for absence
The Energy Group has not met for some time and the hydro project is taking some focus away from other energy group activities. Gillian is unable to stretch herself so thinly to cover all directions that transition is demanding of her and has asked for help from other members to facilitate the energy group meetings and add support. Both Jim, Phil and Alice agreed at the last planning meeting to help out. Read on to see what we discussed…
Present at the meeting
Following introductions between those present, Debbie and Gillian started the meeting by reviewing past events and highlights of the Transition Energy group over the past few years.
Topics reviewed were:
- The Energy Fair: in Hexham and that proposed in Prudhoe with an overview of the highlights and not so highs of the events. The fairs had attracted over 220 members of the public to participate at the fairs and were generally well received.
- Energy Meters: where they are currently, who is looking after them and how they can be accessed. Jim asked if the data stored was databased? Gillian answered that there may be problems with storing personal data and that the storage is limited. Jim thought that the data if stored would be useful for trend analysis ( Can Jim please expand)
- Wood Fuel: It was a project pioneered by Norman to buy woodland and manage it sustainably for woodfuel. This had not taken off due to conflicts of use of woodland proposed at the time.
- Hydro Project: Not discussed in any detail as it is really outside the focus of the new group but Gillian reassured those present that the project was very active and demanding many group members time.
- Wind Turbine: Following a not so rewarding experience at the sailing club, the Hexham racecourse turbine is looking more positive and is still a possibility. (Not sure who is involved in this from TT? What action we should be considering if it takes off? )
Following the historical review the group had a brain storming session looking at where we could look at current and new opportunities for energy action. Those suggested were:
…and the recent announcement of the sale of Dukes House wood.
It was understood that the woodland is to be sold by the estate agents Strutt and Parker. The description of the woodland on their web site states:
The Tyne Valley Woodlands provide an excellent opportunity to acquire well managed commercial woodlands with high amenity. Much of the woodland is at a productive age and could be immediately felled subject to consents to return substantial income with major tax breaks. Dukes House Wood (Lot 1) is well shaped and extends to approximately 269 acres. With a significant number of mature timber stands, the woodland is mainly coniferous, notably with Scots Pine and Larch planted in the 1930’s, 1950’s and 1960’s.
The group thought this offered an opportunity for involvement by TT to try to put a bid together to achieve what had been discussed in earlier meetings, namely a resource for wood fuels and sustainable tree felling. Other activities were discussed such as paint balling, off road cycling, transition activity centre (Eco living) with a futuristic view of possible life scenarios we may find ourselves in depending how we manage the resources we have. Camping and leisure activities which may help tourism in Hexham were also suggested. Funding may come from pension funds currently tied up in funds offering a poor return. Funding may be possible if we can get partner organizations involved such as Hexham Community Partnerships and the Youth Group. Phil C was tasked with calling the estate agents to see what time scale the woodland sale was working to and if an extention was possible.
Unfortunately Alice could not attend this meeting and I am sure she would have helped progress this project. ISOS and their inaction in placing panels on the roofs of houses under their control was discussed and Jim was tasked to ask them for an update on their solar panel development plan. The group discusses the Transition 2 film and Lewes micro energy company and wondered if it was possible to raise cash today in a similar way. Gillian pointed out the returns may not be so good due to reduced FIT subsidies. Jim thought a 12 % to 13% is what can currently be achieved, after the cut in subsidy, the return will be between 6-10%, Gillian thought due to positioning problems and grime, currently it was more like 8% return on the investment.
It was proposed that we put a business plan together to look at the possibility of a return on investment and what securities can be put in place to protect potential investors then get a slot in meetings of potential investors in Hexham to get their view…Jim, Debbie and Phil to action.
Jim thought the previous meetings in Hexham had been well received and that we should build upon that success. Most present thought we should plan for a meeting in March next year and look to build upon the successful previous meetings with a similar format and location. Phil asked if we could go for the Queens Hall Theatre and build for a larger event. Phil is to ask QHT for costs and possible dates in October failing that March 2013. Debbie is to talk with John Eakins about potential energy supplier support.
We agreed to meet on a more regular basis to see what progress is being made on tasks set and Phil suggested Skype as a possible medium for a strict time of ½ hour meeting just to update before the next Monthly meeting or planning meeting.