Presentation of the 2011 Airtricity Meentycat Wind Farm Community Fund

Airtricity, Ireland's fastest-growing and greenest energy utility, will tonight present €90,000 to 42 community groups within the vicinity of the Airtricity Meentycat Wind Farm. The presentation ceremony is taking place at the Villa Rose Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal, beginning at 8pm.

Last September over 600 walkers representing almost 40 local groups took part in a 15km sponsored walk through the wind farm. Groups of walkers from Ballybofey, Cloghan, Convoy, Lifford, Drumkeen, Glenswilly, Letterkenny, Stranorlar, the Finn Valley, and other areas in the vicinity of the wind farm took part in the event. The scenic route took the sponsored walkers through Airtricity's Meentycat Wind Farm and its adjoining Culliagh Wind Farm. As well as having the opportunity to raise funds, walkers also enjoyed the opportunity to get up close to many of the 63 wind turbines while taking in spectacular views of Donegal's most stunning natural landmarks including Mount Errigal and Barnesmore Gap.

Under Airtricity's Community Fund Programme, sponsorship raised by participating groups in the sponsored walk is topped up by additional funding payments from Airtricity. This year community groups raised over €70,000 with Airtricity contributing an additional €45,000 to participating groups.

This year for the first time, Airtricity also invited local groups to apply for funding to implement a range of energy efficiency projects under the new Meentycat Wind Farm Community Fund. Under this fund, an additional €45,000 in project funding towards energy efficiency measures will be presented by Airtricity to three community-based projects in Cloghan, Stranorlar and Ballybofey.

In total €90,000 in community funding will be presented tonight by Airtricity to local beneficiary groups. 

Anne Reynolds, Airtricity Community Liaison Officer, comments:

"With 600 walkers raising over €115,000 for local groups, both through their own fundraising efforts and through the community funding provided by Airtricity, this year's Meentycat Sponsored Walk was by far the largest to date. The event demonstrates the passion and commitment that local community groups continue to show to raise much-needed funding in these difficult times.

"For the first time we have launched and invited applications under our Community Fund Programme for energy efficiency projects in the area. Funding is being provided for a dry lining project at the Family Enrichment Centre at Stranorlar, for an energy efficient lighting upgrade at the Twin Towns Boxing Club at Ballybofey, and for a multi energy efficient project revamp at Ghleann Fhinne GAA.  These investments under the Community Fund will leave a lasting legacy for generations and further demonstrate the economic benefits that renewable energy investment can bring to local communities."

The Meentycat and Culliagh Wind Farms, which are operated by Airtricity's parent company SSE, generate over 100MW of renewable energy to power Airtricity's greener electricity supply for its growing customer base. The Meentycat Wind Farm is Ireland's largest single wind farm.The green energy generated at Meentycat and Culliagh Wind Farms helps to ensure that Ireland meets its national targets of 40% renewables by 2020 and the EU's mandatory 20% reduction in carbon emissions.

In addition to Community Fund benefits, investment in renewable energy presents an unparalleled opportunity to act as a leading economic stimulus locally and nationally in terms of construction jobs and materials, professional services and through local income in the form of local authority rates and landowner rental payments.