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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Corwen's big hydro-electric boost

Neighbouring Corwen could be one of the first towns in Wales with its own hydro-electric power scheme which could earn half a million pounds for the local community.

Ambitious plans developed alongside a £2.1 million Denbighshire County Council scheme to
alleviate flooding problems in the town will be unveiled at a public meeting on Thursday,
September 12th, when details of the £300,000 project will be available.

The electricity would be generated by water from a reservoir above the town and could earn Corwen £40,000 a year – with more than half that money going to the local community over a 20-year period.

It is the brainchild of rural regeneration agency Cadwyn Clwyd who have worked with
Denbighshire County Council and the Rhug Estate to develop the plans. They hope that one of the products of the meeting will be the formation of a board to run a not-for-profit company to run the scheme and organise its finance.

Silas Jones, Cadwyn Clwyd's Energy Officer, said: "We have carried out a feasibility study and it
shows that the Nant y Pigyn scheme could generate 170,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power over 30 homes.

"We have worked closed with Denbighshire Council who have a project to prevent persistent
flooding caused by a culvert that runs under buildings through the town. They have encouraged us to develop the hydro power plan and the two will run side by side, with the flood defence scheme benefiting the hydro scheme.

"We are looking to use the water that drains down the Nant Cwrddu and Nant y Pigyn streams from the reservoir to power a generator in the town and at the same time it would prevent the Nant Cwrddu stream, which passes through a culvert under the Owain Glyndwr Hotel, from flooding after heavy rain."

The costs of the study and the meeting have been paid for by Cadwyn Clwyd through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) through the Welsh Government's Rural Development Plan, part of a three-year plan to revitalise rural communities and their economies, and by the County Council and the Rhug Estate.

Water from the Nant y Pigyn stream 500 feet above the town and flowing at 45 litres a second will power a 55 kilowatt generator housed in a purpose-built building in the town and connected to the National Grid.

It is intended to finance the £300,000 scheme through investors, who would be eligible for an annual dividend, decided by the locally-based board and through loans. Once the loans had been paid off, the cash raised through the Government's electricity feed-in tariffs would provide
a guaranteed income for 20 years.

Denbighshire County Councillor Huw Jones, from Corwen, Cabinet Member for Tourism, Youth and Leisure, and a member of the Cadwyn Clwyd Board, said: "I'm very positive about the hydro scheme and there is a lot of interest in it in the town.

"The flood alleviation scheme is taking place and that makes the hydro project possible and if we can get local people and local organisations involved then it can be a real boost to Corwen for years to come and provide a regular income to benefit the area."

Silas Jones added: "We are looking for a board with the right skills to run this scheme, and for shareholders, and they will decide how the project will be run, the structure of the company, the cost of shares and how many will be made available.

"The community share offer is expected to be priced at £100 to £150 a share with one member one vote, no matter how many shares anyone holds and we have already had expressions of interest in it.

"We need a range of expertise and experience, financial, legal, energy-generating and engineering, and it really is a very exciting idea which could benefit Corwen for many years to come.

"Successful similar community schemes run elsewhere in Wales, notably in the Brecon Beacons through the Green Valleys organisation but this is the first in North East Wales and one of the first in a town."

A public meeting will be held at the Corwen Sports Pavilion on Thursday, September 12th, at 6.45pm to gauge interest in the hydro scheme with a view to forming a company to run it.

For more information on Cadwyn Clwyd's green energy projects ring 01824 705802 or e-mail
silas.jones@cadwynclwyd.co.uk This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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