The village of Portnaguran in Point, Isle of Lewis, is believed to be the first in the country to have converted to LED lighting, thanks to a partnership project between community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust and Tighean Innse Gall.
The joint LED Energy Communities project was launched in March 2016 with the aim of installing free LED lightbulbs in all households in the Point and Sandwick area, reducing the community’s carbon footprint and saving households around £100 a year off their bills.
Every household in Portnaguran was directly approached with the offer and 30 of the village’s 31 occupied houses have received free LED bulbs, with the village now completed.
Each house receives a guaranteed minimum number of 14 LED bulbs, with a total of 476 going into Portnaguran. The average energy saving per house is 716w – calculated from the difference between the old bulbs at 843w and the average LED total at 127w – and if lights were on three hours a day for seven days a week, Portnaguran’s total energy saving would be 15637.4kw a year.
The Portnaguran milestone was revealed at the Annual General Meeting of Point and Sandwick Trust on 19 November by Amy Kapherr-Diament, LED Energy Communities project officer.
It is being celebrated by Point and Sandwick Trust, Tighean Innse Gall and residents themselves.
Calum MacDonald, the former Western Isles MP turned community wind farm developer, said: “It’s a brilliant achievement and they put themselves at the front of an electrical revolution that is eventually going to happen right across Britain.”
Norman Mackenzie, chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “It’s a milestone in our partnership with TIG and in promoting green energy in our area and I would like people to realise it’s not just a question of free light bulbs. That is a door to the possibilities of tackling fuel poverty through better insulation and other advice services. Once TIG are in the door they assess the whole house for what improvements can be made.
“I would also like to thank Amy and her colleagues. Congratulations to Amy and her colleagues at TIG for their hard work and perseverance and we look forward to completing this project through the whole Point and Sandwick district.
“It’s also an example of how remoteness, or what people perceive as remoteness, need not be a barrier in taking the lead in the advancement of new technologies.”
The chairman, who also lives in Portnaguran, added: “The partnership in this is important. It’s not just Point and Sandwick Trust doing this. We’re prepared to make partnerships with people to bring things forward and partnership working is a key element of the ethos of Point and Sandwick Trust.”
Brian Chaplin, chairman of Tighean Innse Gall, said: “I’m delighted to see that this initiative is being so successful and hope to see more villages signing up and becoming totally energy efficient. I’m also delighted that this is a good example of partnership working between PST and TIG.”
Project officer Amy said: “It’s fantastic to have completed our home visits in Portnaguran, installing LED light bulbs throughout the village. This is a great achievement for the project, showing the benefit of partnership working to help our communities save energy and money. Many thanks to Point and Sandwick Trust for their continued support and funding for the project. If anyone has signed up and not had their free LED bulbs from me, get in touch to arrange a home visit.”
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is among those who signed up to the project as she has a family home in Portnaguran. She described the village as “leading the way” and said: “It’s a really good project – not only are you helping people but it also helps the carbon footprint of the village as well. It’s an excellent scheme and it’s nice as well that it’s some quite tangible from the wind power, where people can see the difference that it’s making.”
The main element of the LED Energy Communities project is the installation of the free LED lightbulbs – but once these have been installed, the attention turns to the whole house.
Energy Performance assessments are offered to establish exactly what energy improvement measures would be appropriate and householders are then advised on how to access these measures and on other ways to save energy and money off their bills.
The project was initially launched for five years, with the bulk of the funding – £375,000 over the five years — from Point and Sandwick Trust, although the Climate Challenge Fund also donated £71,900 to fund the first year of the project.