In total, the scheme cost around £330,000. A community share issue raised over £125,000, with grant funding providing another £165,000. The shareholders are mostly local people and businesses plus people from further afield who wish to support renewable energy schemes.
Our members – around 230 shareholders – own the scheme. Our annual general meetings (AGMs), held in the Revival Church in New Mills, attract a high percentage of the shareholders keen to hear how the project has progressed over the last year and exercise their voting rights to control the company. AGMs are held each March.
Each year, we hold a series of well attended open afternoons over the summer and have commenced an educational programme with local schools. This pioneering scheme has generated nationwide interest and has put New Mills on the map. Shareholders can receive interest on their shares, but many choose to donate their share of the profits from the scheme to fund the THNM community grants programme. The window for applications is currently closed, as we are currently focusing our efforts on improving/updating the plant to run more efficiently, but we will be publicizing it widely when we open the next funding window.
Local organizations that have benefitted from the Torrs Hydro Community Benefit Fund:
- New Mills Solar Schools Project
- New Mills Community Orchard
- New Mills Heritage Centre
- New Mills One World Festival
- Visit New Mills
- New Mills Festival
- New Mills & District Volunteer Centre
- Sticky Exhibits (environmental education)
- New Mills Walkers Are Welcome
We have also:
- collected food for the New Mills ‘Helping Hands’ food bank
- provided refreshments for the New Mills Walkers Are Welcome kick-off event
- sponsored a tree at St George’s Parade of Trees
- hosted a number of art projects carried out by students at New Mills School
We regularly host visits from local schools, several of whom have integrated Archie into their curriculum; Archie’s name was chosen based on suggestions from local pupils.
In addition to our Open Days, when we open up the shed and the fish pass to anyone who is interested and volunteers are available to answer questions, we also host official visits by groups ranging from other hydro startups to groups who are simply looking for an interesting day out. We have even had a visit from a group of hydroelectric engineers from China, who fortunately brought their own translators.
In addition to generating electricity, Archie is a valuable resource for academics: a number of dissertations and theses have been based on environmental, hydrological or engineering data collected on site.
We hope to encourage others to think about the challenges that climate changes presents us all. We have been delighted that the project has inspired a number of local artists.
The New Mills Metro reproduced by kind permission of Chris Smith / TwentyTrees Photography of Hayfield.