Eirgrid’s Community Benefit Funds – Leveraging Collaboration and Transparency for Positive Community Impact

Eirgrid, a leading Irish electricity transmission system operator, has embarked on an innovative community benefit funds initiative. The goal is to foster collaboration with local communities impacted by the development of green infrastructure projects. The approach involves partnering with experienced fund administrators such as SECAD partnership and M-CO to efficiently manage and distribute funds. The use of Submit.com, a user-friendly platform, serves as a cornerstone for seamless communication, collaboration, and transparent governance.

Overview of Eirgrid’s Community Benefit Funds:
Avril Wilson, the Senior Engagement Specialist at Eirgrid, introduces the community benefit funds during a webinar hosted by Dee Butler. Avril highlights the company’s commitment to community engagement, emphasizing the early establishment of community forums and a focus on social acceptance. The new community benefit policy, tripling in value, is structured around three streams: community, sustainability, and biodiversity. Avril stresses the alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the importance of leaving a positive legacy in communities impacted by infrastructure projects.

Application Process and Governance:
Avril discusses the application process, where community forums play a vital role in shaping the community benefit strategy. The fund administrators, including SECAD partnership and M-CO, collaborate with communities to design strategies aligned with project-specific needs. Avril details the three-phase release of funds during different project milestones. The governance structure involves a Community Benefit Program Board, an external fund administrator, and an independent valuation committee. Submit.com serves as a comprehensive platform for applications, evaluations, and project updates, ensuring transparency and traceability.

Elaine Barrett (SECAD partnership):
Elaine emphasizes the transparency provided by Submit.com, allowing real-time monitoring of applications and facilitating targeted outreach to communities. The platform’s user-friendly nature has been instrumental in supporting community groups throughout the application process. It aids in reporting to Eirgrid and ensures efficient communication with applicants, promoting successful project outcomes.

Emma O’Mahony (M-CO):
Emma shares insights into successful projects funded through Eirgrid, showcasing a range of initiatives from an electric vehicle for meal deliveries to solar panels for heating a community swimming pool. She highlights the importance of engaging with information sessions and clear documentation. Emma underlines the role of the platform in capturing project details, fostering collaboration, and supporting communities in achieving their goals.

Positive Community Impact:
Avril and Emma jointly emphasize the positive impact of funded projects, including cost-efficient meal deliveries, carbon footprint reduction, and community events. Avril highlights the long-term benefits, such as community capacity building and the creation of sustainable energy communities. The collaborative approach ensures that the funds act as a catalyst for broader community development, leaving a lasting positive legacy.

Eirgrid’s community benefit funds, supported by Submit.com and dedicated fund administrators, exemplify a successful model of collaboration, transparency, and community engagement. The strategic alignment with SDGs, early involvement of community forums, and a structured governance framework contribute to the program’s success. The positive outcomes underscore the effectiveness of the approach in fostering sustainable community development and reinforcing Eirgrid’s commitment to social responsibility.