Galson Community Celebrates Project Success

The Galson Estate community on the Isle of Lewis is delighted to confirm it has secured loan finance of £3.6m from Triodos Bank to fund two more wind turbines installed at Ballantrushal in North Lewis.

The turbines were commissioned at the end of September and are now undergoing the standard 150 hours before they are handed over to Galson Energy Ltd, the renewable energy vehicle for the Galson Estate community. The new turbines are both 900kW capacity with a 55m height to the hub at the top of the tower. This is the same model of turbine installed previously which has been generating electricity for over a year.

Galson Wind Farm

Construction began in February, and the turbines were installed in early July. A community share fund, initiated in October 2014, was concluded at the end of February and negotiations with Triodos Bank ran from January to August, resulting in key loan finance being made available in early September.

Norman Thomson, a Trustee at Galson Estate Trust said, “We were seeking an ethical finance partner with a strong track-record in supporting community organisations and found the ideal solution in Triodos Bank. Triodos was able to work in a very flexible manner to tailor a finance package to the specific aspects of our project. We have been able to proceed at the required pace and meet the critical timescales in order to maximise returns to the community. This is the culmination of a long and challenging process for the organisation to establish a well-resourced investment fund to significantly improve prospects for the community over the longer-term. It is encouraging to see the early interest from local voluntary groups in securing grant monies from the Fund for their projects.”

As the recipient of the wind energy profits, Galson Estate Trust has already set up a Community Investment Fund to create the momentum for distributing funds to promote community regeneration across the Estate. The Trust has been issuing small grants of up to £1,000 in the area over recent months and eleven organisations have been successful so far. With the installation of two more turbines, the Community Investment Fund is expected to grow significantly in the years ahead.

Galson Energy has managed to maximise the use of local services during the overall development process. The construction contracts for Balance of Plant works at the Ballantrushal site – access roads, hardstanding and laydown areas and electrical/telecoms cabling - have been carried out by Galson Estate-based North West Aggregates and Prelec, a well-recognised name in wind farm electrical contracting over recent years. The North West Aggregates team includes Total Design from Back in Lewis carrying out engineering design tasks. Campbell Construction Services in Stornoway have acted as the health and safety co-ordinators and Rennell Heritage in South Uist has provided archaeology monitoring. Due diligence tasks have been supported by Anderson MacArthur and CIB Services, both based in Stornoway. Share offer activities were guided by Co-operative and Mutual Solutions based in Cumbria. Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn and Galson Energy have been ably assisted by Community Energy Scotland throughout the project lifespan.

A contract for the sale of electricity to the market has being concluded with Co-operative Energy as an extension to the arrangement for the first turbine. This arrangement is particularly attractive to Galson Energy as it provides monthly income flows which will be critical in the early stages of operation when cash flow will be a major challenge.

 


This is the culmination of a long and challenging process for the organisation to establish a well-resourced investment fund to significantly improve prospects for the community over the longer-term