North Leitrim Sustainable Energy: a look back at 2017 and forward 2018

North Leitrim Sustainable Energy community (NLSEC) is taking January to look back on a busy and successful year ​in 2017 ​and to plan for 2018.

It was a busy year for the committed team, comprised of the working group under the chair of​ Séamus Dunbar, graduate placement Dave O'Connor and mentors from Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEAI). Working closely with Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEAI) and the group's mentor, Mel Gavin from the Contract Research Unit at the Innovation Centre in I.T. Sligo, NLSEC completed its Community Energy Charter and carried out energy surveys with businesses in North Leitrim​.

In July 2017 the group was formally incorporated and registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG), in order to be better equipped to further its aims and to be able to avail of further funding opportunities. This allowed NLSEC to participate as an employer in the Local Enterprise Office backed Graduate Internship Programme, and they were delighted to welcome on board Environmental Science Graduate David O’Connor who was with them for six months, finishing in mid-December.

Collaboration​ with other organisations was a major part of the community energy group's objective and it has liaised with SEAI, The REDZ scheme, Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI), Clár, Leitrim Enterprise Office and Tidy Towns as well as businesses and residential groups in the region. There was great cause for celebration in August when Seamus Dunbar won the Community Energy Champion Award at a ceremony in Dublin as part of the Get Involved Sustainable Community Initiative. Seamus also​ spoke​ at a press conference on sustainable energy in Dublin in December.​ NLSEC raised awareness of Sustainable Energy Issues with stands at Manorhamilton Show, Drumkeeran Old Fair Day, the Organic Centre Open Day and the Green Door Festival as well as attending several energy and sustainability events during the year. A training sub group has just been set up to develop workshops for interested members of the public in small scale hydro wind and solar energy generation. NLSEC looks forward to developing the core group, its outreach activity, engaging with other organisations and developing ideas and projects on community energy in 2018.

The main focus for the group in 2018 is to produce an Energy Masterplan for the North Leitrim area. This will involve completing the research already begun with their associates at GEAI into the energy usage in North Leitrim, and developing a register of opportunities for Energy Conservation and Sustainable Community Controlled Energy Genertion. NLSEC is currently working with SEAI to obtain funding for this iniative.