Eco friendly firms on both sides of the border are benefiting from a business network aimed at cutting north west customer’s costs and energy use.
Ren Net (the Renewable Energy Business Network) launched in March 2012 and now boasts a membership of 35 local firms from across the Derry, Donegal, Magherafelt, Limavady and Strabane council areas.
Funded by the EU and backed by the five local authorities, it is in essence, a network for renewable energy and green economy companies, that aims to cut both domestic and commercial client’s energy use and ultimately costs.
Ren Net member Paul Howie is in no doubt as to the benefits of membership.
“What has been developed over the past year is a real support network, somewhere where members swap and share ideas and best practice with the scope to refer customers onto other members,” he said.
Paul, whose family run lighting company was a familiar fixture on Derry’s Strand Road for almost 40 years, now runs Howie Lighting Design and Supply.
It specialises in low energy lighting.
“Ren Net fits in perfectly with our company ethos,” he said.
“Ultimately what the network is about is saving all our clients both in terms of energy use and cost. In one example we were able to save one restaurant £20,000 a year just by switching to LED lights - obviously that is of great benefit to their business.
“The network’s key focus is helping everyone, be it domestic or business customers, become more self sufficient, Ren Net can offer firms with expertise in wind turbines, biomass boilers, solar panels, LED lights, all aspects of renewable energy.
“It’s about reducing overheads and energy use at the one time.”
Donegal member Christopher Lynch, from Buncrana based Efficient Heating and Plumbing Solar, is equally enthusiastic about what Ren Net offers his firm.
“It’s about striving to make the most of renewable energies, and as a network it’s been working really well since it launched.
“With the backing of the five local councils customers know members are firms that can be trusted.
“As a company we are only too happy to identify how you can make savings by switching to renewables. It might be a case of spending relatively little but getting back real benefits. Over the past few years people and businesses have been looking for alternatives, especially because of the high costs of energy.
“Ren Net’s members share the same way of thinking and can help you go greener as well as cutting your costs.
“As a business we are always learning from other members.”
Both businessmen say they have already saved clients hundreds of thousands by helping to cut energy costs.
And they say the shared expertise among Ren Net’s membership, and the ability to refer to refer clients to other members has proved invaluable.
A drive to recruit more members is now underway.
“We would hope to have around 70 members across the five areas come under Ren Net’s wing,” Paul said.
“What we hope is that Ren Net becomes a flag bearer, we want to be in a position where people will here we are a member and know that we are both a trusted and pioneering firm.”
Ren Net are today holding an open day in Baronscourt Estate in Co Tyrone. The event will give potential new members the opportunity to both visit the vibrant working farm and discover more about diversifying into the green economy.
Anyone interested in membership or who wants more information can visit Ren net online at www.ren-net.org