THEY want to use their strong community ties to help tackle fuel poverty and CO2 emissions in the Colne Valley.

And now Colne Valley Community Energy (CVCE) group are one step closer to making their plans a reality.

The green group have been shortlisted by the energyshare launch fund for a share of up to £100,000 funding.

Thousands of other environmental community groups across the country applied for funding towards an environmental project in their area.

But CVCE were one of 100 projects who have been invited to make a detailed application.

Graham Mitchell – a member of the group and founder of the Green Valley Grocer – told It’s Our World he believes they have a good chance of winning because their plan is quite distinct from the rest.

Graham, from Slaithwaite, said: “I think we’ve been innovative with our plan.

“Lots of other groups around the country want funding to buy renewable energy technology like solar panels or wind turbines.

“That’s absolutely fine – but what we’re trying to do here is introduce a more integrated and coherent approach to solving the issue.

“The primary focus is about helping people reduce their energy use.

“Energy costs are going up at a massive rate which is an increasing concern.

“This means that more and more people are going to be forced into fuel poverty.

“We are trying to create a community-owned organisation structured as a co-operative to tackle this.

“It is important that we work together positively as a community to reduce our energy consumption.

“We have a really strong community spirit here.”

The organisation plans to bring together residents and businesses in the valley to aggregate their buying power.

This includes introducing a web-based ‘virtual smart meter’ to share the valley’s energy usage information and enable the community to gain control over their energy demand curve.

Graham said: “By reporting comparative energy use information we can show how the energy use of individual households relates to the average, and thereby encourage higher than average users to reduce their energy consumption.

“And by smoothing our community’s energy demand curve we can – as a purchasing cooperative – secure more competitive energy pricing for our members.”

The group also plans to run sustainability awareness and behaviour change programmes.

And once armed with a detailed knowledge about the community’s energy needs members will then plan the best ways of generating the valley’s own sustainable energy.

CVCE is made up of members from local ethical groups Marsden & Slaithwaite Renaissance, Valley Wind Cooperative, Marsden & Slaithwaite Transition Towns (MASTT) and Slaithwaite Cooperative Limited (trading as The Green Valley Grocer).

Energyshare’s founding partners, River Cottage and British Gas are committed to distributing £3m to community renewable projects through the energyshare fund over the next three years.