Event to consider energy independence for Wadebridge
WADEBRIDGE residents will hear how it may be possible to take charge of their energy needs during a three-day exhibition at the Town Hall later this month.
Wadebridge Energy Futures will feature guest speakers including Sir Tim Smit and Professor Anne Carlisle, from Falmouth University, who will be among those discussing how the Wadebridge area can become energy self- sufficient.
The event, organised by the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN), which now has almost 1,000 members, will also delve into the town's industrial past when local companies controlled gas and electricity supplies.
Wadebridge has a fascinating industrial heritage, which began back in 1834 when one of the first railways in the world was commissioned between Wadebridge and Bodmin, five years ahead of track laid in London. It attracted engineers, specialists and entrepreneurs to the town.
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In the 1840s, the Harris Foundry was set up and later went on to secure world acclaim, winning international awards for its innovative pumps, pistons and water wheels which were used to produce energy.
In the 1920s, the Iron Brothers set up another foundry in Polmorla, confirming Wadebridge as a centre of innovation and excellence in engineering and energy production, creating local jobs, prosperity and growth, said Paul Holmes, WREN's operations manager.
"Wadebridge was pretty self-sufficient in the energy department too, with local investment creating local ownership of gas and electricity supplies," said Mr Holmes.
"In the mid-Twenties, the Wadebridge Electrical Supply Company was founded to generate power for Wadebridge using diesel generators.
Then, through nationalisation in the Sixties and up country electricity generation and distribution through the National Grid, Wadebridge lost its energy independence.
"With privatisation of the energy sector in the early Nineties we now find ourselves dominated by the 'big six' energy companies," he said.
"The current challenges of ever-increasing energy prices, future energy supply security, and the rising need for quality jobs, prompts us to look at our town's future energy requirements.
"It is estimated that we spend over £11 million a year on energy in Wadebridge, Egloshayle and St Breock, but very little of this expenditure brings any economic benefit to our community."
Mr Holmes said the exhibition and discussion forum will look at ways of ensuring energy costs were contained for residents and how "energy independence'' could be secured.
"The exhibition will highlight Wadebridge's energy past and present, and take a look at possible future options," he said.
The event runs from Thursday, September 19, to Saturday, September 21 with a special event for local businesses on Thursday evening and a panel discussion on the Friday evening.