SSE Airtricity announces record-breaking year of community funding
SSE Airtricity, Ireland’s largest renewable energy generator, has reported a record-breaking year of community funding, having awarded over €900,000 (£660,000) to community groups in the vicinity of its wind farms in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Through its Community Fund programme, SSE Airtricity makes annual contributions to the communities closest to its 26 wind farms. In the financial year just passed (1st April – 31st March), the company awarded €651,000 (£465,000) to local projects in the Republic of Ireland and around €310,000 (£227,000) to those in Northern Ireland.
A record-breaking 204 applications were received during the year, with a total of 156 groups receiving funding, including schools, sports clubs and community centres. The majority of these groups have put the money towards improving their energy efficiency and sustainability measures, which SSE Airtricity strongly supports.
One of the many examples is Skreen Dromard Community Council in Co. Sligo, which is based near the company’s Kingsmountain and Dunneill wind farms. Council Chairman, Martin Wilson, commented: “Thanks to SSE Airtricity, we have been able to greatly improve the community centre’s heating efficiency over the last few years. In 2013, we were able to get the cavity wall pumped, and in 2014, we were able to upgrade the windows in the first section of the building as well as installing a fire escape door. This year’s funding will allow us to continue the improvements, particularly through the long overdue replacement of 19 windows.”
The Community Fund programme is now in its 13th year, and these latest figures bring the company’s total spend up to €4.57 million (£3.3m), with €3.6 million (£2.62m) awarded in the Republic of Ireland and €968,000 (£704,000) handed out in Northern Ireland. To date, 1,739 local projects have benefited from the annual contributions, with 1,466 based in the Republic of Ireland and 273 based in Northern Ireland.
Anne Reynolds, Community Development Officer at SSE Airtricity, said: “It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to award funding to so many forward-thinking and worthy local projects. It’s great to see so many of the groups putting the funding towards greater energy efficiency, which is something we’re always promoting at SSE Airtricity. By helping local groups to become more energy efficient and in turn reduce their fuel costs. As a company, we strive to make a positive difference to the communities in which we live and work, and with over €4.5 million distributed to date, it’s clear that the Community Fund programme is doing just that.”
This past year also saw SSE Airtricity present its highest ever single payouts in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. In August 2014, the company presented £197,000 (€268,000) to 25 community groups in the locality of its Slieve Kirk Wind Park in Co. Derry~Londonderry, and in February 2015, it awarded nearly €200,000 to 30 local projects close to its four wind farms in West Limerick.
In addition to its annual Community Fund, SSE Airtricity also launched its new Scholarship Fund programme with the University of Ulster and South West College. Funded by the Slieve Kirk Wind Park Regional Fund, the SSE Airtricity Scholarship awarded almost £100,000 in support to more than 20 students living in the vicinity of SSE’s Slieve Kirk Wind Park in Counties Derry-Londonderry and Tyrone.
SSE Airtricity’s 26 wind farms have a combined capacity of over 500MW and power almost 300,000 homes on the island of Ireland.