Mary Walsh CEO of CCDP held a second consultation of the Sustainable Energy Community Network (SECN) members on the 26th of June 2017.

The meeting which was held in the Carlow County Development partnership offices in Bagenalstown was attended by representatives of 9 communities from towns and villages in County Carlow.

Thanks to all members who attended and, for being such a participative group. The evening was stimulating, educational, and extremely interesting with everyone sharing their knowledge and expertise, worries and apprehensions.

We are further delighted to make known that, all nine communities have registered with the SECN. The importance of registering signifies that, each community has two essential elements of information:

  • That the community is registered (included on mailing list for further information and updates)
  • Those communities have access to the SEAI expert who will assess individual communities providing specific consultation to individuals and groups of the community.

Members indicated that they would like to visit organisations’ that are at present using Energy Efficiency measures to acquaint them with the different approaches and systems in use. By general consensus, the Old Leighlin Community Hall, and Bagenalstown Swimming pool were the preferred choice for a site visit before embarking on the more elaborate excursion to view the extensive Energy Efficiency upgrade works undertaken by the North Tipperary Community group.

Mary Walsh assured all communities present, that CCDP will give them objective advice and support on the risks, in depth analysis of finance involved and payback.

Furthermore, members discussed relevant concerns and difficulties that would be challenging. For example some of the issues raised were how would it be feasible within small community groups, and more importantly, how does the community group convincingly market such an elaborate model to get buy-in from the community. Administration and project management was also extensively considered, and a centralized coordinator/manager was suggested as a consideration.

There were a range of questions and subjects raised to include:

  • How to start; and the follow on journey
  • Time element and time frame
  • Individual community vs centralized approach
  • Green issues
  • Finance issues – how to raise finance, cash flow concerns
  • Public buildings- SEAI policy on listed buildings
  • Glass in windows of listed buildings
  • Paying back loan using Energy Efficiency Credits/Carbon Credits
  • Could River Barrow be used as a viable option to generate energy
  • Setting up mini district heating systems (Swedish Model)

Members inquired if there was a list of models of best practice available from SEAI. They would also like some specific facts of projects in action. Members also requested training to be made available by SEAI to make the terminology and language used by assessors more understandable (plain& clear).

The meeting – consultation ascertained the enthusiasm expressed by community members. Members felt that the support, advice, guidance, and expertise that was being offered by Mary Walsh and CCDP was invaluable and beneficial. They added, that the meeting answered practical questions which were very helpful. The suggestion that they visit the two local projects was met with great enthusiasm. This exercise would act as a stepping stone for our excursion to the projects carried out in North Tipperary.