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Peter Rolton on BBC Radio Northampton

On 2nd December, Peter Rolton was interviewed by Rob Adcock on BBC Radio Northampton to discuss the Northampton Community Energy Scheme.

Here is what they talked about:

Do you dread getting your energy bills at this time of the year? Just recently it’s started to turn cold hasn’t it, and you’ve just really started putting on the heating in your house. Now if you do and you live in Northampton then this next story were going to talk about might be of interest to you. Rolton Kilbride is currently investigating options for a community energy scheme for Northampton. I know what you’re thinking, what’s a community energy scheme? Well guess what Peter Rolton is the chairman of the group and he joins me on the line now. Peter, see if you can guess what the first question is going to be?

Well, what’s it all about? Thank you for having me on.

No problem at all, so first things first then, what is a community energy scheme?

What we’re looking to do is take local waste and turn into low carbon heat and power for the community in Northampton. Essentially what we’re trying to do is offer the community an alternative to getting their electricity and their heat from the Big Six energy suppliers, and if I could just talk you through how were going to go about that…

Please do.

We all have rubbish in our households and we split that up into recyclables and non-recyclables. The recyclables, well some of that is quite easy – tins, bottles, that goes off to be recycled. But then we have that black bag and the black bag is all the stuff that were even not quite sure what to do with or that can’t be recycled. We take that and we actually put that through a further recycling process, and we’re left with a portion of household waste that is processed into what’s called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel as an acronym. We then put that through a very advanced conversion technology called gasification and out of that process we get low carbon electricity and heat. Now the big idea here is to take that electricity and heat and not to supply it to the national grid. Instead it’s to set up a community interest company, which is a bit like a private limited company except it’s owned by the community. It doesn’t have private shareholders, it’s actually owned by stakeholders, in this case the community itself, so any profits from it are returned to the community. Now, In terms of saving money for people if actually we think about people’s energy bills, let’s say you got your electricity bill at home, Rob, and it was a thousand pounds. Less than half of that is the actual cost of generating that electricity in the first place, less than five hundred pounds in generation costs, and the rest is all levees, grid charges, taxes, climate change, and renewable obligations.

Got you, so that’s how the money is saved then because it cuts out that bit.

We can cut all of that out if we actually go direct to the community and supply it directly. There is a huge opportunity here to avoid a lot of grid charges.

Peter, there will be people listening to this now that say well what’s in it for you. Because there will be sceptics that think why you doing this? Do you see why people might have those thoughts?

Yes absolutely, and I’m very happy to explain that. So the project essentially is a private-public partnership. The energy generation is going to be done in an energy centre which we’re hoping to develop down at the Westbridge depot. That energy centre is probably in excess of a hundred million pounds as an asset to build, and that is the private part. The proposal is that that private power station would then sell at wholesale price, so were talking at half the retail price, over the fence into the community energy company, which would then supply the electricity and the heat into the community. First of all it would be at a lower cost; this won’t work if the end product is energy that costs the same as you can get from the Big Six, so the community energy company is going to supply the community at a lower cost, but any profits they make then go back into the community.

Got you, thank you very much for your time Peter.

Thanks very much.

Really appreciate it. That’s Peter Rolton who is the Chairman of the group that is hoping to set up this community energy scheme for Northampton.