Talybont-on-Usk is the first village in Wales to have their own community owned hydro. They sell all the energy generated into the grid to produce income that they then invest in community projects.
So far, they have funded a cinema screen in their town hall, an electric car share club, and have financially supported Talybont residents to trial a variety of energy saving measures, including an electric bike scheme, energy audits and trials of energy meters, which have all helped them learn about ways they can have an impact on their energy use.
It all started with a public meeting in the town hall where local residents, council members and employees from the Brecon Beacons National Parks Authority met to gauge interest in renewable energy. Over 60 residents turned out, which enabled talk to turn into action.
“We were offered an opportunity and Talybont grabbed it with both hands.” Peter, Clerk to the Community Council.
Spurred on by the enthusiasm, the group obtained funding from the National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund to work with consultants and explore what potential there might be for generating their own electricity. A core of around 25 people emerged as active participants.
“It was terribly important to us that people in the village were behind this, it wouldn’t work if people didn’t think it was a great idea and want to be involved and eventually we had a core group of people who were really passionate about it.” Barbara, Director of Talybont Energy and local resident.
One of the local residents who came along to meetings was a retiree from the local waterworks and recalled an old turbine house that had previously been used to power the water treatment works at a local reservoir but had since fallen into disuse. It was a breakthrough moment!
“We went up there, knocked on the door, got this big rusty key and opened the door to the turbine house and there it was. It was amazing, no turbine there, just a slot in the ground, where the turbine had been and the water rushing through.” Barbara, Director of Talybont Energy and local resident.
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