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No more bills . . .

31 May 2013

. . . AT LEAST, not for 20 years. No wonder they are all looking so pleased with themselves. The congregation of St Alban's, Earsdon, near Whitley Bay, in the cold north-east of Newcastle diocese, will be kept warm each winter without having to pay any further bills.

Mind you, they had to raise £150,000 for their new heating system, a state-of-the-art biomass boiler that runs on wood pellets, which heats both the church and the adjacent church hall. The hard work of grants and begging letters brought in £65,000, the Revd Andrew France tells me, and they did a lot of local fund-raising, but were still £60,000 short.

Fortunately, a friend came to their rescue with a £60,000 interest-free loan, which they are paying back at £1000 a month - they have already paid off a fifth of it. But, from now on, for the next 20 years, under the Renewable Heat Incentive, OFGEN will be paying their fuel bills up to about £10,000 a year (inflation-protected) as a reward "for our willingness to embrace an unfamiliar technology and reduce our carbon emissions", Mr France says.

St Alban's is the first church in the Newcastle diocese to install a biomass heating system, and it is now helping other community organisations to explore the possibility of going down the same renewable route. I cannot help hoping that, after a 20-year holiday, the future congregation will be able to face the bills with equanimity.

Forthcoming Events

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

4-8 July 2022
HeartEdge Mission Summer School
From HeartEdge and St Augustine’s College of Theology.

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