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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 May, 2003, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Village finally gets mains power
Julie Hutchings
Julie Hutchings will soon be able to stop using candles at night
Ten homes and a youth hostel in a remote mid Wales community are finally getting connected to mains electricity after a four-year battle.

From next week residents of Cwm Brefi, seven miles from Tregaron, in Ceredigion will be able to stop using generators to power their homes and join the rest of 21st century Britain on the national grid.

Without main powers they have had to choose between watching television or using the washing machine.

They have also had use a torch or candles to stumble to the bathroom at night.

This project is about people's basic human rights and it is horrific to think a community has to live like this in the 21st century
Dafydd Morse of Curiad Caron

But now 197 poles have been set up across 15 kilometres of land to allow the community to get switched on to mains electricity.

The campaign started in 1999 after Julie Hutchings and Eleri Davies complained about money spent on the ill-fated Millennium Dome in London.

"We were grumbling about the dome and how the government could pay for that and not fund mains electricity for our community," said Mrs Hutchings.

"Our generator is 40-years-old and provides so little power that we don't use an electric kettle and if I use the washing machine I can't have anything else on in the house."

Because the generator is only on for six hours a day, problems have included not being able to set the video recorder, use a hair dryer or put up any lights at Christmas.

Workmen installing lines
Connecting to the power grid has cost 280,000

Also, the family can only have one light on when Mrs Hutchings' husband, a carpenter, is in his workshop.

Mrs Hutchings wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair and a host of other politicians for help.

But the campaign was kick-started at grass roots level by Llanddewi Brefi Community Council, just up the road.

A chain of meetings was then begun with the Welsh Development Agency and Ceredigion Council which resulted in a feasibility study of the scheme.

The application for funding the project was handled by local community group, Curiad Caron.

"This project is about people's basic human rights and it is horrific to think a community has to live like this in the 21st century," said the organisation's Dafydd Morse.

The scheme has cost 280,000 and was paid for by a 100,000 grant from Ceredigion Council, 5,000 from the owners of each of the homes and the hostel with the remainder coming from European Objective One matched funding.

"This will mean a huge difference to our lives," said Cwm Brefi resident Eleri Davies.

"We live on a farm and we have to use the least powerful equipment such as power jets that are on the market because the generator can't provide enough power."

Resident Julie Hutchings
"We thought, we've got to go for it"

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