Transition Culture

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4 Oct 2011

Bath and West Community Energy launch their first public share issue

Another community energy company that has emerged from a Transition initiative is about to take the big step into unveiling its community share launch. Bath and West Community Energy (BWCE) grew out of Transition Bath, in particular a meeting of its energy group where people looked at each other and said “we could actually do something about this”, and the ball started rolling.  It is set up as an Industrial and Provident Society with the intention of installing renewable energy, wind, solar, biomass and hydro in a way that is locally owned, locally controlled, which generates local income and provides local jobs.  It is established from the outset as an enterprise (as opposed to being dependent on grants), and as one that can deliver renewable energy at scale.  Profits will be recycled back into the community.  Its share launch takes place on Wednesday 5th October 6pm for 6.30pm till 8pm at the Banqueting Room, The Guildhall, Bath.  What they have created is a very exciting new model.

One of the first things BWCE did was to form a partnership with the local council.  It also formed a partnership with SSE who have offered them loan finance at very attractive terms in order to enable BWCE’s first steps to get underway.  Its first projects are solar PV on local schools where BWCE will pay for the panels and the schools will get free electricity.  The first systems start being installed at the end of this month.  The aim of doing these solar installations first is to build a solid foundation and confidence in advance of a community share launch.  The aim is then to raise £500,000 in shares from local people, who will be offered a 6-7% return each year on their investment, which is very attractive. BWCE has also joined up with a similar initiative that sprang out of Transition Corsham so it can generate the scale necessary to attract capital finance.

In the longer term, BWCE is looking at 3 local potential wind sites and a hydro project, which, combined, will need around £11 million, but which will generate around £275-300,000 for community projects.  It will also develop renewable heat projects and energy efficiency.  It is a great model, very much replicable in other Transition initiatives.  Here is their press release about the launch:

“Things are moving quickly at Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE). We now have planning permission for 8 out of the 12 solar PV systems we are planning to install on schools and community buildings. We expect to hear about the remaining applications soon. We have also secured a loan of £1 million from SSE. Work will start this month on the first solar PV systems scheduled for installation. For more information on BWCE and the proposed sites, see www.bwce.coop.

Our share launch is only a couple of days away. This is your opportunity to be involved too, whether you just want to find out more about us or if you want to consider taking a stake in BWCE, do come along if you can make it. If you haven’t already replied to an invite and you would like to attend, could you please let Helen Reed on Helen.Reed@bwce.coop know as soon as possible. We will also be welcoming along two of our key partners, Councillor Paul Crossley, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council and Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of SSE who will be speaking in support of our work.

Copies of our Share Offer Document will be available on the night.  We hope to see you at the launch of our new and exciting community venture”.

Best of luck with the launch, and if you are in or around Bath, do get along to what will be a historic event.

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4 Comments

Andrew Ramponi
4 Oct 10:10pm

“It is established from the outset as an enterprise (as opposed to being dependent on grants)”.

To be pedantic almost all renewable energy projects are supported by feed in tariffs (FITs), which are a form of grant aid from the energy companies. Or, to be more precise, from their customers, many of who cannot practically because of the type or tenure of their home, even if they could afford an installation, benefit from the scheme.

That said, though I’d prefer to see far greater emphasis on financially creative demand reduction incentives, renewable installations with or without FITs are good to see.

[...] one that can deliver renewable energy at scale.  Profits will be recycled back into the community. http://transitionculture.org/2011/10/04/bath-and-west-community-energy-launch-their-first-public-sha… For the community advantages, check out http://www.bwce.coop/?page_id=25 For the Transition Town [...]

Brian Gregson
30 Nov 5:53pm

Can you tell me please if shares are still available as I would consider investing in this. Are there any plans for sites in or near Atworth, near Melksham, where I installed a PV system two years ago and have had satisfactory results of around 3200kwh from a 3.2kwp array.

Brian Gregson
30 Nov 6:27pm

I have now discovered your share application form which I am considering. Can you please tell me if recent changes to the legislation have changed the terms of the offer, and also just when the cheque would be presented so a sto help me with cash flow. A reply soon would be appreciated.