£753,000 was raised through community shares to install a 100 kW hydroelectric turbine on the Allt nan Cailleach burn in Strontian. The Hydro scheme will generate revenues to be used for the benefit of the local community as well as providing returns to shareholders, and will also yield environmental and carbon saving benefits.
Community support for the Hydro Scheme
A ballot was held in May 2012 to ask the 348 local residents if they supported the hydro scheme and therefore the purchase of the disused dam from Scottish Water, under ‘community right-to-buy’ legislation. The support was overwhelmingly in favour of the purchase of the dam for a hydro scheme. There was a 70% turnout: 232 voted ‘yes’ (95%) and 11 voted ‘no’ (5%).
Delivering Community Benefit
A key part of the vision for the Project is the creation of an on-going income stream to support local community development. Subject to final confirmation of the financial model at the close of this share offer, it is estimated that during the payback period of any commercial loans the amount available to community groups will rise quickly to £15,000 per year. Once loan finance is paid off the amount available to the community will rise significantly until the Feed-in-Tariff payments finish after 20 years. After that time the payments will drop back to approximately £10,000 per year based on current ‘export’ rates.
Hydro goes live!
In October 2015, five months after construction started, the community hydro scheme in Strontian started generating and exporting electricity.
“This is an exciting day for the community”, said Richard Laybourne, Chair of Sunart Community Renewables which led the project. “The hydro will generate income to spend on projects in our local community for years to come. We want to thank all our investors who bought community shares and the many supporters who have made the vision of 5 years ago into a reality.”