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Council looks to wind power after £5M energy bill  

Wind and water turbines could be built across Derby under new proposals.

The move has been prompted by Derby City Council’s escalating fuel bills, which rose to £5.15m during the past financial year.

Now the council’s environment commission is set to present the cabinet with a list of recommendations over energy use and conservation.

The council has already outlined proposals to build a hydro-electric station on the River Derwent to power council buildings, but it is now set to consider expanding those plans.

As well as the turbines, energy could be created by sourcing heat from tapping deep into the earth.

That energy would initially be used to power public buildings, but eventually could be sold to private householders.

Rising fuel costs meant the local authority spent £2,568,845 on gas in the past financial year – a jump of 128 per cent on the previous year.

The size of the rise was partly due to the expiry of a three-year fixed price contract. Electricity costs also rose by a third to £2,596,431.

A report by the council’s environment commission will urge the cabinet to follow the example of Woking Borough Council, which is recognised as one of the leaders nationally in developing and preserving energy.

David Romaine, the council’s scrutiny and complaints manager who put together the report, said: “There’s the possibility to put water turbines in some of the industrial areas of the city and there’s also the potential to use wind energy.

“Another possibility is creating geo-thermal energy, where underground heat is used to create power.

“Energy prices have become astronomical and are bound to get worse and worse.

“But there is the potential that we could create power through natural sources and sell it to residents at a much more reasonable rate.”

In Woking, natural gases power energy stations in both the town centre and a council-owned park. Between them, they power all the civic buildings, a town centre hotel, lighting around the park and a leisure centre.

A town sports pavilion is also powered using geo-thermal energy, where eight 100-metre holes have been bored into the earth’s surface and the intense heat is used to create power.

A similar plan was considered for the Quad arts centre in the Market Place, due to open in the spring of 2008, but at £300,000 it was scrapped when the scheme’s budget was downsized from £13.4m to £10.4m last year.

The council’s plans for the hydro-electric station were revealed in July.

A £500,000 plant would be developed at Longbridge Weir. It is estimated that it could create enough energy in a year to supply all the needs of the Queen’s Leisure Centre for seven months.

Chris Williamson, the leader of the council, said: “Clearly, we have a responsibility because of the global situation to look very seriously at our energy uses and where savings can be made.”

by David Walsh

dwalsh@derbytelegraph.co.uk

thisisderbyshire.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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