Energy Blog

In the Beginning…

I suppose it all started a few years ago when the Trustees began to discuss the possibility of installing solar PV panels to help with electricity costs and to get some payback via the Governments feed in tariff.

However, before any installation could be undertaken on the roof, the Trustees had to consider the age of the building and decided it was best all round to have a full structural survey done of the entire building. This would ensure that the roof could cope  with the weight of several solar panels. The Trustees also decided to see if some small scale improvements would be worthwhile whilst also trying to understand how much life was left in the original 1950’s building.

Once we had the report, we were relieved to know there was still life in the old girl and that the roof would be able to cope.

Of course what a structural survey won’t necessarily tell you is how well your building is insulated or how much heat your loosing through the doors and windows.

It was about five years ago that the Trustees had looked at replacing the old metal windows, but on investigating the costs decided that it would have wiped almost all of our savings. So, the  project was put on hold whilst a suitable funding source could be found…..it might be a long wait..

You’ve got to be in it to win it…

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February 2012

And then during 2012 we heard about the Big Lottery fund from the National Lottery and decided to make an application

First thing was to obtain three quotes, which we did all from local companies who had experience in this area.

We felt we had demonstrated a need as the windows were single pane, metal framed. The type that don’t keep in the heat, take a lot of looking after, have fragile glass that breaks easily and also doesn’t help deaden sound.

The outside doors also took  a lot of maintenance and needed staining on a regular basis to protect them from the weather. So, all in all, it was felt that we had a good case.

The long application form was diligently completed by Secretary, Angela Schug and sent off.

And then in October we heard back that we had been successful!

The £10,000 we received would go a long way to replacing ALL of the doors and windows throughout the entire building. Looking at the quotes, however we knew that we needed a top up. We could use some from our Development Fund but that would almost bleed it dry and there would be no reserves. So our knight in shiny armor came along in the form of the Social Club.

To detract for a moment.

The Social Club has come a long way in the last 4-5 years.

When I first became a Village Hall Trustee, meetings were full of reports on how well – or rather how badly, the Social Club was doing. Dwindling membership, large turnover of committee members, very few volunteers to run the bar. The Chair of the Social Club, Don Proudfoot knew that if he could keep going, there would be a change of fortune for the club and at that time as I was becoming familiar with the Village Hall so two other people were making strides with the Social Club. Both Gerald Schug and Eric Masters took the Club and shook it up.

They did what I believe we’ve done to the Village Hall – look at it from a business point-of-view and bring our collective experience running business, working for large companies, being part of the entertainment business and working in the Private Sector and transferred those skills into what is now a thriving community venture.

The Social Club now has a healthy membership, has regular music nights, a quiz and hosts pool and darts league matches. It has also got a health turnover and last year decided to become a CIC – a Community Interest Company. Effectively being run as a company but with any profits ploughed back into the business and distributed throughout the community.

And here was a perfect opportunity to give something back in the way of a £5,000 donation towards our project.

Moving forward

SEPTEMBER 2012

And so, armed with enough money to instruct a company to go ahead with the replacement doors and windows, the Trustees looked again at renewable energy.

At the 2012 Fete it was decided to invite one or two companies to come and talk to use about how they saw their products fit in with our needs.

After the Fete it was then felt that a more “in depth” assessment needed to be made about how we go forward. The suggestion came that we invite all the interested companies to an open day that we would arrange and to invite members of the public to look and see what we were considering. This was so that everyone in the village would know what we were looking to achieve at their own Village Hall and maybe to give them some ideas of their own as all of the companies provided solutions for domestic as well as commercial buildings.

Of course, we were struggling in the dark somewhat as none of us had any real knowledge of renewable energy – OK so one or two may have had some solar panels installed and knew someone, who knew someone else in the industry, but you could write our collective knowledge of the back of a fag packet!

Energy logoWe put out a notice of the consultation on flyers which we distributed to every house in Tasburgh and also had it printed in the Quarterly.

And then the phone rang:

“Hello. My names Jackie Richards  I run my own energy consultancy, I live in the village and I’d like to help you. For Free.”

.”Never look a gift horse in the mouth Tony” I thought, so we chatted and I invited Jackie to our next Trustees meeting.

It became clear that Jackie had lots of experience and she would soon guide us through the maze that is renewable energy in a large, old building such as ours!

She was able to pinpoint suitable companies to invite to our open day and would also be able to help look at funding sources. Our plans wouldn’t come cheap.

I know. The cynics amongst you are probably wonder why she’s doing all this for nothing. We’re part of her wider development into renewable energy, her specialty is working in the community – and what better way that your own front door – and her sense of helping her local village hall. For any other reasons you would need to ask her yourself. All I know is, that however you want to dress up Government policies like the Big Society, this is it in action and we could do with a few more Jackie Richards!

Consultation Day

JANUARY 2013

The main hall had five companies from all over East Anglia (Norfolk mainly) with various solutions. Some a combination of heat source pumps others wind turbines and all of them with solar PV panels. The choice was bewildering to the uninitiated. Thankfully there was enough guff to read to make you an expert in a matter of days but above all the people from each company guided you through all the options and made it all sound simple.

Those people who attended from Tasburgh found it interesting (according to the questionnaires we passed around) and took away quite a bit of information for their own use as well as offering comments about what we had planned.

display2The next step would be to collate all of the quotes from the assembled companies and look at what best suited our needs. Jackie would present these at the next meeting – February 2013 after which we would have to wait for some time before we knew if any of our plans would come to fruition and if we would be able to secure funding for any of the energy platforms that had been suggested…

…And then the phone rang again!

This time it was from South Norfolk Council asking me all sorts of questions about renewable energy and if we’d considered it. Obviously I answered yes and from there I realised that I was being quizzed for a possible fund that had been set aside for various “showcase” projects across Norfolk. If I answered correctly, then potentially Tasburgh would be able to get all of its heating done without us having to spend months, possibly years, obtaining funds – here it was, being offered to us on a plate!

There were a tense few days whilst the Councils weighed up each Village Hall’s needs and our ability to demonstrate a need. And when the call finally came through from Broadland Council (who were administering the whole scheme) it was like I’d won the lottery!

The excitement was short lived when it was explained that all the work had to be completed by the end of March – and here we were the 2nd week in February!

Things had to move very quickly indeed. Meetings scheduled, plans drawn up, quotes obtained and a whole new bunch of acronyms to learn!

The trustees first had to finally decide which system best suited our needs. From advice from Jackie and one of the companies, it was finally agreed that a Bio Mass System would be best.

Broadland were also offering to install new heaters, LED lighting, a small solar PV array and arrange any necessary planning permissions – well they are a council after all!

Delays

FEBRUARY 2013

It wasn’t long before the realisation set in that perhaps a deadline of the end of March was a tad ambitious!

The Council went back to DECC (Dept of Energy and Climate Change) to get an extension. Another agonising wait.

It finally came through and potential work was pushed back to a more suitable time for the Hall – the Easter holiday fortnight. Only one wedding slap bang in the middle of it all. But that didn’t seem too much of a problem.

The delay also gave time for a planning submission to be put together for siting of a store for the pellets and possibly for the PV panels on the roof.

Whilst waiting for the Project Manager to draw up a list of works and design the heating system, our original work was just around the  corner….

Windows and Doors Go In!

March 20th 2013

A team from Stratton Glass arrive early in the morning and start work ripping out the old windows and doors, replacing them with shiny new ones!

 

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