At its first meeting of 2019 last week, the board of Tolsta Power Ltd co-opted several new directors.
They include Stuart Thompson and Graham Morrison. Stuart is already involved with the Community Council in Tolsta.
Welcoming them, Tolsta Power Chairman, Murdo MacIver said: 'These appointments are part of our vision for succession planning.
"We felt it was important to involve younger people in decision making for the future good of Tolsta, and the three appointed bring a good range of additional skills to the board’.
Tolsta Power Ltd, in reflecting on the success of its 900kw turbine also made it clear that what motivates the board is not the money - but what it represents:
‘We have always seen our role as stimulating development through capacity-building: using the money generated by the turbine to fund training and education, to assist local businesses, and most importantly of all perhaps, strengthening the community’.
Mr MacIver continued, ‘We are grateful that the turbine is up and running, and that the money it earns is facilitating all those improvements. However, we are also glad that the next phase of renewable energy development in Tolsta will be managed and funded by Forsa Energy. The village will reap the rewards of a generous community benefit package,but with none of the risk, debt and worry that we had with building our own’.
This certainly does not mean that Tolsta Power is finished with renewables developments of its own, however. The meeting also discussed early-stage plans to investigate the possibility of more community-owned turbines, and even a hydro-electricity project. Suggestions that such schemes could, potentially, be owned by a joint venture between the community and Forsa Energy were raised with Alasdair Macleod of Forsa. He said:
‘We’d be happy, in principle, to explore these possibilities. Obviously we’ve worked closely with the landlord, Stornoway Trust, and the community in Tolsta over many years now, and this forms a good basis from which to scope out where the community might take this in the future. The Scottish Government is certainly keen to encourage shared ownership models of this kind’.
Murdo MacIver added: ‘Of course, our immediate concern is that nothing should jeopardise the case for the interconnector, because without it, there will be no more community schemes for Tolsta, or any other village. These developer-led projects will be what secure the cable, and bring community benefit without risk.
‘Once that’s in place, we can think about where Tolsta Power goes next, secure in the knowledge that we will continue to enjoy the backing of the Stornoway Trust. The Trust will ensure all the protection we need is secured under the lease agreement which only our landlord can provide. Then, other villages will be able to replicate what we’ve achieved here’.