Image credit: Neville10, used under Creative Commons license.
When I wrote about one community that demanded more wind turbines be built near it, I noted that creating ways to spread the economic benefits of wind installations with the communities that surround them is a great way to build support for renewable energy. Oil has already proved itself a poor distributor of wealth in the Middle East—with dire consequences—so exploring ways that clean tech can avoid the mistakes of the past seems only too sensible. Now a new government plan in the UK looks set to ensure that every single community where wind is installed gets a piece of the economic action. In a deal agreed with the wind industry, the UK's coalition government has just announced plans for wind park community funds that will help invest money from renewables back into the local communities where they are installed. Writing about the new community wind fund deal over at ZeroCarbonista, wind energy entrepreneur Dale Vince argues that it's not just a way to build support for renewables, but to also counter the severe budget cuts faced by public institutions:
"With all the current talk of libraries, community centres and sports halls being closed because of government cuts , here's a great way for local communities to replace that funding. Local wind projects will from now on not just bring the benefits of local green electricity, but also the funding of vital social projects that government cuts would otherwise shut down."
Under the scheme, a Community Fund of £1000 per MW will be set up per windmill, per year - for up to 25 years. The Government is also contributing by allowing the local authority to keep the rates paid by the wind energy project. Local community projects will then be able to apply for grants from the fund to support local causes. Sure, it's not likely to create any wind billionaires, but it's good to see an institutionalization of the idea that communities should benefit from the projects they are asked to live with.