The Sustainable Energy Communities programme was set up to enable and encourage communities to change how energy is used at a community level. The programme provides a range of tools and supports to help guide each community, along with their members, along a sustainable energy journey that comprises of 3 key steps.
The first step is the Learn Step. This is where a community can join the SEC Network with over 150 members to share and learn from experiences and projects. There are events hosted each quarter targeted specifically at the SEC Network members all across Ireland. Communities can also access an SEAI appointed Mentor to help them.
The second step is the Plan Step. This step involves a partnership with SEAI where we can provide further supports to each community. It is also the part of the process where we ask you, with your community, to develop a Community Energy Charter, setting out the ambition and vision for your community. This is accompanied by a short Energy Competency assessment so that progress can be tracked from year to year. Following this up to 100% funding can be provided to develop an energy master plan of the energy used at a community level. This will include the basis for a register of opportunities, which is a list of projects that are appropriate for your community. Support will be provided from both the SEAI Mentor and the SEAI Technical Panel.
The third step is the Do Step. This is where the plan from the previous step is put into action. There are a number of SEAI grants that can help with this. The main grant programme up until now was the Better Energy Communities programme. This new SEC Pilot grant programme is an excellent Do step opportunity also.
This SEC Pilot Grant is designed to facilitate smaller community projects to succeed in the Better Energy Community (BEC) grant call. There are a number of changes made to facilitate this. Each key change from the BEC Grant is highlighted in green in the following text.