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Gatley Golf Club finds a fairway to save a fortune

GOLFERS bunkered by the cost of utilities at their clubhouse came up with a cunning plan to ‘putt’ them ahead and the sensational scheme is a fairway to massively reduce their electricity bills.

Founded in 1912 Gatley Golf Club has a proud history, but now the future is secured and they are going green after they rented out the clubhouse roof space for a solar array and investors are ensuring they pay no more than 6p per kilowatt hour for their electricity when the sun is in the sky.

Before the 200-member strong Cheshire club signed up for the 172 solar panels at their picturesque premises they were paying 11.4p per kilowatt hour – the savings over 25 years will be more than £220,000.

And the club that has Tom Bolton, 32, as their PGA pro is believed to be the first in Cheshire to sign a free fit solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and as a result they now expect to be light years ahead of the opposition with their savings on electricity that should run to thousands of pounds  every year.

Club treasurer Joe Huyton, a retired building project manager, was at first highly sceptical of the Green Energy Commercial deal that offered index-linked reduced rate electricity for more than 20 years.

Joe, who is a dedicated member of the nine hole par 68 course and club, which has developed in recent years with a new 100 to 120 seater Centenary Suite, said: ‘Energy bills we all know are going through the roof and for a small club like this it was a major concern.

“I was hunting around looking to get alternative suppliers to save a bit and then club captain Ray Cullen told us about Green Energy Commercial and their PPAs and to be honest it sounded too good to be true.

“There was this company that would give us free solar panels and then index-linked reduced rate electricity for a couple of decades at least.

“In my business life I always felt there was no such thing as a free meal and this was a lot more than a free lunch. It was potentially massive savings – the equivalent of four or five new members joining the club every year.

“I told Ray I didn’t believe it and then he got Nick Blashill from Green Energy Commercial in and after his straightforward presentation and looking at the contracts and the figures it was very obvious that this was a no-brainer for the club.

“Lots of golf clubs are suffering from diminishing memberships, but here was a scheme that would be like us putting a guaranteed four or five new members every year on the fairways without the wear and tear on the turf.

“Our electricity costs were five per cent of the club’s overheads and going up annually and that is the future. We are now hoping to halve the energy costs.

“I’ve looked at the meter today just before noon and they have moved up 21 kilowatts and it’s a dull day with lots of cloud. We’d expect more output during the summer months.

“The future is green and for a golf course that’s a great thing as we want to secure our greens for the next generation.

“After 20 years the panels will be left behind and that is a great legacy to leave for future members of the club.

“We have five aspects of our roof covered with 172 panels and the lads did a good installation.

“I understand projects like this and was impressed with how very and neat and tidy the installers where.

“After my initial reluctance and scepticism I now wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Green Energy Commercial to any other sporting club or business. It’s been a brilliant move for the club and it’s cost us absolutely nothing.”

Joe reckons the projected £125,595 saving over 20 years that rises to £222,154 in the following five years will ensure the club’s future come rain shine through to the next generation. The saving in the final five years is greater as the deal with the investors who fitted the solar array for free will have run out, so the electricity savings will be even bigger.

Joe added: “The one thing we all know is that energy costs are going up – so fixing a deal now made total sense.

“For us the savings help secure the future of the club, but we are also keen to do something about reducing our carbon footprint.

“It could also help put more footprints on the fairways as we’ll hopefully get more members as a result of having more economic facilities.

“It was very quick once we’d spoken to Green Energy Commercial’s Nick and in just a few months the deal was done and dusted and the panels were in place.

“It’s already working and it’s putting something back into the National Grid and the reduction in costs of electricity will enable us to invest the funds elsewhere.

“This is planning for our future and will bring in more members – we’re not wasting money on utility bills now and this is a 20 year deal.

“I know saving £125,595 in electricity bills in 20 years almost sounds too good to be true, but we can see the meters and know we will be saving thousands each year.

“These free fit solar arrays are fantastic for sports clubs, but also brilliant for ordinary businesses. It’s a win, win situation and you don’t get many of those in golf let alone in life.”

Nick Blashill, a director of Green Energy Commercial, said: “We all know the big energy companies keep pushing their prices up, but for club’s like Gatley we’re able to secure a deal that helps putt golfers in front.

“It’s a no brainer for sports clubs and for businesses – we can ensure they fix their electricity bill and the free fit systems can save them a fortune over the lifetime of the deal.

“We are doing similar deals for scores and scores of small businesses and medium sized firms and even household names can see a return on their bottom line by fitting panels.

“On top of all that it’s helping to save the planet by reducing the carbon footprint of the businesses involved.

“But we are also rolling out the free fit schemes for sports clubs – cricket, golf, rugby, football, you name it – if they have their own premises then there are massive savings to be made and that’s money in club coffers at the end of the day.

“The Government is looking to almost double the cost of Carbon Credits to businesses from 2020, this means that the wise companies are making their own investment into renewable energy right now.

“Currently ‘listed’ companies have to report their Carbon usage, but this is strongly thought to soon be expanded to companies with over 100 employees and then onwards as our Government works tirelessly on hitting the nation’s 2020 EU environmental target and commitments.

“We know these current PPA agreements we are doing for the investors will be around for the next 12 months, but our only concern is that people who prevaricate and hold off securing a deal could find themselves missing out.”

Anyone wishing to inquire about possible free fit for their premises can go onto the website www.greenenergycommercial.com or email: info@gecommercial.co.uk.