Power NI unveils BIG Energy Saving Challenge champions

Monday, July 02, 2012

Annaclone Community Engagement group based in Katesbridge was today unveiled as the overall winner of Power NI’s BIG Energy Saving Challenge.

The winning group was rewarded with an energy saving fund of £20,000 to add further energy saving initiatives to their local area.

The BIG Energy Saving Challenge is the first community-based energy competition of its kind in Northern Ireland. Over 400 households and 1600 people took part in the project that saw Power NI donate more than £100,000 of energy efficiency funding to the six local community finalists involved.

The Annaclone group’s efforts stood head and shoulders above other finalists, especially since the Katesbridge area recorded one of the coldest temperatures during the big winter freeze of 2011. “We were very impressed with the level of entries from across the province and each finalist was awarded an initial £7,500 to kick start a greener community for the year long challenge,” said Neil Coleman,

Power NI’s BIG Energy Saving Challenge project coordinator. “Finalists included Drumarg Community Association in Armagh, Mullaghdun Community Association based in Enniskillen , the Banbridge and Craigavon branch of Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke , Transition Omagh ,

Transition Town Whitehead and of course the winners from Annaclone.” The campaign launched in 2011 aimed to increase energy efficiency awareness across Northern Ireland.

The real challenge however was to educate groups on ways to save energy and money, reduce heating and electricity costs as well as make local communities more sustainable.

Bronagh Rafferty from the winning group said; “ We are delighted to be announced as the overall winners. We made significant changes throughout the past year, which really brought the whole community together. Everyone has become more aware of saving energy measures and it’s important that everyone makes simple changes to save money and energy.”

Some of the simple measures instigated by the winning Katesbrige group included boiler servicing to reduce heating costs, putting into practice energy saving advice provided by Power NI mentors as well as loft and cavity insulation in 20 households services which are available to all Power NI customers. Bronagh added; “One family saved over £425 on their annual electricity costs and the challenge has brought back a strong community feel again. It’s safe to say that Annaclone Community Engagement has been energised by winning this Challenge.”

The £20,000 funding prize from the BIG Energy Saving Challenge will be spent on installing a new Solar PV panel for the community hall to produce electricity, a refurb of new windows and doors to make the hall more energy efficient as well as cavity wall insulation.

Photo caption: Neil Coleman from Power NI celebrates with BIG Energy Saving Challenge winners Bronagh Rafferty and Aldo Fusciardi from Annaclone Community Engagement in Katesbridge.