NORTHERN POWERGRID FOUNDATION AWARDS £20,000 TO HEXHAM COMMUNITY CENTRE TO FUND SOLAR PANELS AND BATTERY STORAGE
A centre which serves as a vital hub to its local community has received funding to help reduce energy costs and provide a sustainable energy source to protect residents during a power crisis.
The Northern Powergrid Foundation, established by Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for the electricity distribution network that powers the lives of 8 million people in the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, has provided £20,000 to Hexham Community Centre to fund solar panels and battery storage.
The funding, which was successful on the grounds it would guarantee the operational benefits of the community centre during any potential energy crisis, is cost effective and will support all who enjoy the services provided by the centre.
Hexham Community Centre, Gilesgate, is one of the largest community centres in the North East, with potential to accommodate emergency accommodation for over 200 individuals. The centre has already established itself as a refuge for emergency flood responses and in the winter of 2022/23 took part in the Warm Places Programme in Hexham; providing a warm space and activities for people who struggled to heat their homes.
Funding from The Northern Powergrid Foundation will further support the community centre to provide Hexham’s residents with a safe and secure emergency refuge in times of crisis.
The grant will fund solar panels and a battery storage facility, which will provide emergency power regardless of any disruption to the mains power supply. The solar panels will consist of 36 units providing an output of 365 Wp per panel. This will accommodate a saving of approximately £3,800 per year; as well as providing an emergency back-up system during a power cut.
Jodie Coe, Northern Powergrid’s Director of People and Change and Louise Lowes, Northern Powergrid’s Head of Customer Services, Northern Powergrid Foundation Trustees said: “We're delighted to support the community centre and provide funding to help keep customers connected in the event of a power cut or emergency situation.
“We were impressed to hear that the community centre is serving its residents so well and the additional funding will further support and complement the centre’s ongoing plans to operate efficiently and innovatively. We look forward to finding out about the benefits of the solar panels and battery storage for all.”
Guy Opperman MP, who has played a key role in supporting his community with its application and helped present the cheque to Hexham Community Centre said: “I am delighted that Hexham Community Centre has achieved this £20,000 grant.
“This partnership work will make a massive difference to Hexham. I want to thank all the communities who have supported my campaign, ensuring that community resilience is improved for future weather events."
Tom Pearson, Vice Chairperson of Hexham Community Centre said: “Hexham Community Centre is an emergency hub for flooding and extreme weather conditions. Inclusion of a power source will be a great resource towards dealing with emergency incidents.”
More about The Northern Powergrid Foundation
The Northern Powergrid Foundation will officially launch soon, with grant applications from communities across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire accepted in due course. The Foundation’s mission, complementing Northern Powergrid’s ambition to be a force for good in the communities it serves, is to support communities most affected by changes in the economy, environment, and society because of the shifting energy landscape. This will be achieved by supporting projects focused on helping to tackle energy resilience during emergency events, vulnerability, fuel poverty, levelling the rural divide, innovation, social support, and community collaboration.
The Foundation has worked with Northern Powergrid’s community partners to identify the best ways to create a positive and enduring impact for those worst affected by Storm Arwen in 2021.
The Foundation is proud to have funded over 40 unique and exciting energy resilience projects so far for communities within Northumberland and County Durham (totalling £560,000). These projects have largely been for the creation of, or the expansion of community hubs with energy resilience pieces of kit such as: generators, solar panels and heat pumps.
The Foundation will be open for applications biannually and the first round for applications to all communities served by Northern Powergrid will open very soon with applicants invited to apply online.
Community groups interested in finding out more about applying for funding up to £20,000 from The Northern Powergrid Foundation, should email firstname.lastname@example.org to be kept up-to-date when the website is live and the Foundation is officially open to applications.
Photo L-R: Guy Opperman MP, Tom Pearson, Vice Chairperson, Cllr Trevor Cessford, Louise Lowes and Jodie Coe, Northern Powergrid Foundation Trustees, pictured at Hexham Community Centre, Gilesgate, Hexham, NE46 3NP.
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