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July 20, 2009 1:48 PM

House fitted with thermodynamic and photovoltaic panelsBritish Gas has opened up a new energy fund of up to £2million, as part of its nationwide Green Streets campaign to encourage innovative energy projects in the heart of British communities.

Nick Harvey, MP for North Devon, says 'The fund has been established to support a growing grassroots movement across the country of people who want to bring a new lease of life to their community with ambitious energy projects, but who need help to get their plans off the ground.

Any community group with a focus on local renewable energy projects, which can range from solar, wind or hydro power to biomass, ground-source and air-source heat pumps, can compete for a share of this money. '

The opening of the £2million pot follows the first Green Streets challenge last year when eight streets across the country were pitted against each other to see which street could cut their energy use the most. By the end of the experiment, the streets had reduced domestic energy use by an average of 25% with the winning street in Leeds achieving a cut of nearly 35%.

Phil Bentley, Managing Director of British Gas, said: 'We're seeing a genuine groundswell of interest from communities around the country to band together to save and generate energy, and do their bit in tackling climate change.

'The families who took part in the first British Gas Green Streets challenge found they could cut their energy use by as much as 35%. We're now giving whole communities - whether they're rallying around swimming pools, pubs or village halls- the chance to save energy, cut carbon emissions and learn how to generate power locally.

'We bring expertise in energy efficiency and new energy technologies to the table. In return, we hope the Green Streets communities will come up with some great new ideas for saving and generating energy - ideas that will benefit the country as a whole.'

British Gas will provide the funding, support and technical expertise to develop and implement the successful groups' ideas. Next year all the projects will go head-to-head in a number of challenges to reduce energy use, generate local energy and increase support amongst members of their own community. Their progress will be monitored for a year by the independent Institute of Public Policy Research (ippr) think-tank.

The winning community project will receive a further £100,000 prize in funding from British Gas.

Applications should be made online by 31st August by visiting