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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Mid and East Antrim Council looks to renewable energy to cut £1million electric bill

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s electricity bill costs the ratepayer £1m annually.

The council says that in a bid to cut its highest energy cost, it is considering expansion of its solar output in a bid to double savings.

A report presented to the Direct Services Committee on Tuesday evening has indicated that a feasibility study has been carried out with suitable sites identified at Larne Leisure Centre, The Amphitheatre and Sullatober Household Recycling Centre, Carrickfergus, Ballymena Household Recycling Centre, The Braid, Ballymena and Larne council depot.

Installation is planned during this financial year at a cost of almost £165,000 with up to 25 per cent of the expense for renewable energy projects expected to be met by the Department for Economy.

The local authority anticipates that the solar output is expected to provide “a significant proportion of daylight demand”.

It says that “roof mounted solar arrays will provide a visual demonstration of council’s commitment to sustainability”.

Speaking at the meeting, Carrickfergus Alliance Councillor Lauren Gray commented: “Everything is moving in the right direction. If we are trying to tackle nett zero, we need to be taking steps now.”

The council has also been considering the potential of a solar farm at Carnfunnock Country Park outside Larne.

Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly voiced concerns that it may “raise issues with campaigners in relation to industrialisation of the countryside” and he said that “other solar energy should be explored”.

However, councillors were told that that this particular site may not have access to an “end user for potential electricity generated”.

“There are better opportunities within the council estate to generate solar electricity at a scale that would provide opportunity to enter into power purchase agreement with neighbouring industry at very attractive unit costs or where export would be offered at higher unit cost rates due to network capacity pressures”, a report stated.

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