solar

Bath & West Community Energy launches solar share offer in Paulton

 

 14 October 2014 Bath and West Community Energy (BWCE) is inviting people to a series of launch events to find out more about its latest community share offer, which aims to raise £1.6 million to build the Wilmington Solar Array near Bath.

 

BWCE, which won Community Energy Company of the Year at the 2014 UK Community Energy awards, will be hosting a drop-in event at Paulton Methodist Church, Park Lane, Paulton, BS39 7QQ,, from 10.30 to 11.30 am.

 

Since the share offer opened on September 17th it’s already raised over £420,000 – more than a quarter of its target. The minimum investment is £500 and the maximum is £100,000. The offer is due to close on November 14th but may close earlier if fully subscribed.

 

Pete Capener, Chair, BWCE, said: “Investing in our community solar issue offers far more than a reasonable financial return; it will help to secure a community-owned project generating significant, long-term benefits for local people – cutting carbon and tackling fuel poverty - for many years to come.

 

“I urge anyone who is interested in making a long-term positive investment, that could not only benefit their pocket but also the environment and the community, to come along to one of our events and find out more.”

 

The investment return would come from the government’s Feed-in Tariff subsidy and the direct sale of the electricity generated. BWCE has returned 7% per annum for the last 3 years to its investors and forecasts a similar 7% return on this project. The scheme is also eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme, which means qualifying taxpayers could boost potential returns further.

 

Surplus profits will be recycled back into the community through an independent Community Fund, which will make grants to local projects focusing on reducing fuel poverty and cutting carbon emissions, for example through local food production, transport and waste projects. The Wilmington Farm Solar Array is expected to provide over £700,000 to the fund over its 25-year lifetime.

 

Planning permission has already been secured for the solar array, which would have an installed capacity of 2.34 MegaWatts, generating enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of over 650 average homes.

 

Shares in the community co-operative are being offered through Ethex, a not-for-profit website designed to make it easier for people to invest directly in social impact businesses.

 

Jamie Hartzell, Ethex Managing Director, said: “Community-owned renewable energy is one of the most popular areas of positive investment for Ethex. BWCE not only has a track record in delivering clean energy installations but has an inspiring vision of local ownership which will help grow renewables in the wider community. I believe this will give people a greater awareness of where energy comes from and how we should use it responsibly.”

 

Further events for prospective investors are being planned in Bath, Corsham, Bradford-on-Avon, Keynsham and Radstock over the next three weeks.

 

For more information and to download a free Share Offer Document, visit the BWCE website: http://www.bwce.coop/invest/.

 

You can also invest directly via the Ethex website: https://www.ethex.org.uk/BWCE

 

-ends-

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

 

For photographs, interviews and more information please contact:

 

Sophy Fearnley-Whittingstall, SFW Communications, sophy@sfwcommunications.co.uk or 07979 368238

 

Peter Andrews, BWCE,  07817 967 837 or 01225 484472

 

About BWCE

 

Bath & West Community Energy was established in June 2010 as a Community Benefit Society, as a result of initiatives from Transition Bath and Transition Corsham.

 

Its purpose is to bring community ownership to energy projects in Bath and the surrounding area. It concentrates on projects that will generate significant community benefit, support the local economy, reduce the impact of climate change and increase our energy security.

 

As one of the most successful community owned energy enterprises in the UK, BWCE has previously raised over £5 million through its own or partner community share offers.

It has also worked with numerous other local community groups to help them establish their own community energy projects, including Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Low Carbon Gordano, Frome Renewable Energy Coop and Kennet Community Energy.

 

In September 2014 BWCE was named Community Energy Company of the Year and its Chair Pete Capener was named Leader of the Year, at the UK Community Energy Awards.

 

About the Wilmington Farm Share Offer

 

·       The project consists of 9000 solar PV panels at Wilmington Farm, near Marksbury, Bath & Northeast Somerset. The final installed capacity will be 2.34 MW. The land is lower-grade agricultural land (3b) and the area around and under the panels will be managed for conservation purposes, with sheep grazing and a wildflower meadow to greatly enhance biodiversity.

 

·       Total cost of the project is £2.6 million. £500,000 has already been raised from existing members. Bath & North East Somerset Council has agreed a loan of £500,000 subject to contract. The Share Offer therefore aims to raise £1.6 million.

 

·       The withdrawable shares are valued at £1 each with a minimum investment of £500 and a maximum of £100,000.

 

·       The scheme will be eligible for EIS (Enterprise investment Scheme) tax relief. Qualifying income tax payers will therefore be able to claim tax relief of 30% of their investment.

 
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