Lightbulb moment for Washingpool Farm after £9,000 electricity bill

Lightbulb moment for Washingpool Farm after £9,000 electricity bill

Simon Holland

A family-run farm shop is going green after a shock electricity bill for more than £9,000 for just one month galvanised them into action.
Simon Holland and his sister Bryony Brock were horrified to receive a massive bill for August’s electricity at Washingpool Farm, just outside Bridport.
August had always been a bit of a killer for electric, as the hot weather made their fridges and freezers work hard.
Another big drain on their electric are the pumps taking water from a spring on site and pumping it to where it needs to go.
However last year they received a grant from Low Carbon Dorset to replace their open fridges, which helped bring their energy use down.
May’s bill this year was around £1,700. But in August the rate shot up to 80p per kwh and a bill for over £9,000 arrived.
Such a bill might kill off newer businesses, but the family have been running a shop from Washingpool since 1971.
Simon and Bryony’s late grandparents Mr and Mrs Eveleigh launched the shop, their parents Alan and Gillian Holland took over later and these days the shop, farm, holiday cottages and campsite involves the whole family – Alan and Gillian, who are now in their 70s, Simon, Bryony and their spouses and their six children, aged eight to 19.
They have put their heads together and come up with a plan to reduce the bills and keep their heads above water.
Simon said: “The government’s plans are still vague – we don’t really know what we’re going to get.
“Even with the cap it will still be too much as we’re in contract now. I don’t see much help coming our way.
“We’re investing heavily into PV to bring the price down – a wind turbine is out of question as you would be able to see it for miles around, given we’re in the middle of the AONB. But solar we can do.
“In a way it’s a good thing, getting people to think about reducing their usage. Reducing demand is a good thing.
“But many people won’t be able to do what we’re doing.
“They might not have the space or the money to invest.
“Even with the solar panels though it looks like we have to keep working very hard. It’s a struggle, prices are all rising and all our producers have higher costs. There’s a limit to what you can pass on to the customer.
“We’re not replacing staff if they leave. We have 30 members of staff – all local and very loyal, who help run the shop, café, our small touring caravan site, two holiday cottages and farm.”
The farm is mixed, with beef, sheep and vegetables being produced for the shop and café.
Simon said: “We buy quite a bit in, but we have a rule that everything is from the south west, including the wine and spirits. Bread and cakes come from Evershot Bakery. Everything we grow we sell – potatoes as well. But we need support from the public. “It’s going to be hard.”

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