Saddleworth Community Hydro scheme nets dividends for investors

A VISIONARY team who invested in a community-owned hydro scheme at Dovestone Reservoir are being rewarded with some gratifying dividends.

A 51kW hydroelectric turbine was installed at the foot of the dam in Greenfield two years ago thanks to a partnership between United Utilities and the Saddleworth Community Hydro group.

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The turbine house

Since then, it has been feeding enough power for about eighty average homes into the National Grid.

Now, four years after buying £230,000 worth of shares, faithful shareholders will begin to receive an annual return in the form of four per cent interest payments from this summer.

But a spokesperson for the hydro board stressed: “This was not a money-making wheeze.

“Many of the 167 investors who committed between £250 and £10,000 were willing to risk their capital for the sake of the environmental benefits of generating sustainable electricity locally.

“Their faith in the directors and Steering Committee paid off and they will get a modest return.”

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Inside the turbine house

To cope with unexpected escalations of costs, some short term loans were taken out towards the end of the construction and lenders will now receive interest on their loans.

“All being well, these loans will be paid off by the start of 2018 and then we will be able to put profits into community and environmental projects,” said the spokesperson.

“Overall, the success so far has been heavily reliant on the enthusiasm and commitment of a team of volunteers who manage the project and maintain the equipment.

“But no less important has been the goodwill and trust of individuals and organisations who want to see progress towards a more sustainable way of living.”

The innovative scheme was the country’s first turbine at a high head dam and has already received a Community Energy Collaboration Award and the Community Award in the Institution of Civil Engineers North West Annual Awards.

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