Tired of paying for electricity, man moves into windmill and says he won’t pay the bill again

James Forsyth, 66, of Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire, bought the 1830s windmill and hopes it will be operational by 2023, saving his £200-a-month electricity bill

James Forsyth with his windmill restoration project.
James Forsyth with his windmill restoration project.

A villager is overcoming the energy bill crisis and generating his own electricity by restoring an 1830s windmill – and he’ll even sell excess electricity back to the grid.

James Forsyth, 66, lives in a Cambridgeshire corn mill that has been defunct since 1925.

The retired boat builder is embarking on an ambitious project to restore a disused windmill which he says will cut his £200 monthly electricity bill.

James said the 12-metre-long windmill, which will use its sails to feed a top-floor generator, will also produce enough electricity to sell back to energy company Octopus.

He said: “It’s a huge project, both financially and physically. This mill hasn’t turned for well over 100 years.

“Hopefully this will encourage a more zero-carbon existence for others.”

James, who lives with his 54-year-old wife Shell, started the project after buying the three-bedroom mill at Swaffham Prior five years ago and hopes it will be operational by 2023.

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James hopes the mill will cut his £200 monthly electricity bill
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Picture:

James Linsell-Clark / SWNS)







He hopes it will be operational by 2023
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Picture:

James Linsell-Clark / SWNS)

He said: “We use around 30 kilowatts a day and our electricity bill was £178 last month.

“I think the windmill will easily cover that, with any excess going to the National Grid.

“It won’t be huge sums, but it was never our idea to support the village or country in this way.







He estimates it will produce enough electricity to sell back to the energy company Octopus
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Picture:

James Linsell-Clark / SWNS)

“If our house doesn’t go offline, then in a way, bringing the country to net zero is our contribution [carbon] until 2050.

“It’s going to be many, many years before we get the money back, but for that reason it’s not going to be done.”

James has also signed up to benefit from a pioneering green energy program being tested in his village.







The mill dates from the 1830s
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Picture:

James Forsyth / SWNS)







The site has not been active since 1925
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Picture:

James Forsyth / SWNS)

Partly funded by the Government, the £12million project will use ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps to provide heat energy to the entire village.

Cambridgeshire County Council has said 68 of around 300 households in the village have signed up for the scheme, which offers energy at variable and fixed tariffs depending on the size and use of the property.

James, from Devon, said he expects to pay 9.7p per kilowatt under the scheme to heat his home, which he bought in 2019.

The property is set on 12 acres and includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two lounge areas.







James calculates 9.7 pence per kilowatt
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Picture:

James Linsell-Clark / SWNS)

His windmill project, which began in late 2019, is now entering its final stages after four years of work that have been “difficult during the pandemic”.

James declined to disclose the total cost of the project, saying, “It’s going to take many, many years — if ever — to get the money back.”

He added, “Saving on bills is the icing on the cake, but we still had to buy the cake.”

James is now trying to weatherproof the building after putting on his cap this week, which rotates to follow the direction of the wind.







The project started five years ago
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Picture:

James Linsell-Clark / SWNS)

Four sails – each measuring 7.5 meters (25 feet) in length – are due to be installed by the end of August, leaving only the generator to be installed on the upper deck before being operational by 2023.

Other restoration work included replacing paneling and windows, and building a new wooden cap for the windmill.

The windmill was built sometime between 1835 and 1850 and milled corn until 1925 when it was damaged by a storm and fell into disrepair.







The mill was previously damaged by a storm and fell into disrepair
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Picture:

James Linsell-Clark / SWNS)

During World War II the cap was removed as it was believed that German aircraft used it as an aerial landmark to find bombing raids.

In the 1980s, English Heritage renovated the mill “from the ground up” to restore it to its original appearance.

James said: “By the 1970s the mill was completely derelict. The windmill has rotted away.







The property is set on 12 acres and includes three bedrooms
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Picture:

James Linsell-Clark / SWNS)

“English Heritage restored the windmill tower. They rebuilt it from the ground up exactly as it was in the 1830’s.

“If they hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be able to set the cap now.”

James, who works part-time in grounds maintenance, is helping with the project and has enlisted the help of friends.

He said project costs could have gone into the triple digits but – with the savings he and his wife Shell had – they stayed below that.

James said: “If it weren’t for the skills I have and friends to help, it could become a six figure sum for the windmill.

“We enjoy it, we like to work on things. It’s really my retirement project.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/man-sick-paying-electricity-moves-27101586 Tired of paying for electricity, man moves into windmill and says he won't pay the bill again

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