Thursday, 12 April 2012

Wind power money can address fuel poverty

WINDFARM community funds should be invested in local energy efficiency projects to lift residents out of fuel poverty, says Consumer Focus Scotland (CFS). 

In a report published on 10 April 2012, the watchdog has called for greater integration between renewable generation and energy efficiency policy.

The report noted that developers commonly set up a Community Benefit Fund alongside each windfarm and highlighted the potential to spend it on insulation and advice, reports Utility Week.

Trisha McAuley, deputy director at CFS, commented: "Fuel poverty is greatest in rural areas. Although there have been significant and welcome improvements in the energy efficiency of Scottish housing, these improvements have not been sufficient to compensate for rising energy costs, while levels of fuel poverty in Scotland have also continued to rise."

She continued: "In the early stages of managing Community Benefit Funds, local groups have typically prioritised small-scale projects to improve local amenities such as their village hall or play park. Now our research shows that there is growing interest in activity to improve energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty among some of these groups."

Communities involved in the research received an average of just over £30,000 a year but CFS said larger sums were becoming more common, enabling more ambitious schemes. CFS urged the Scottish Government to take a lead and work with developers and local authorities to integrate energy efficiency into community initiatives.

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