Generating funds through renewable energy to support the local community in Mid Somerset

Community Share Project

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Project aim

To generate funds through renewable energy to support the local community in addressing such issues as fuel poverty, poor insulation and carbon emissions.

We love the environment, as you do

We are a group of people living in the area around Glastonbury and Wells who believe passionately that to protect the planet, the time has come to move our energy supply toward renewable sources and away from nuclear and fossil fuels. Rather than leaving this to big companies and the government, we think there is a great opportunity for the community to be actively involved. So we've formed a democratic Community Benefit Society (Avalon Community Energy) that can raise capital to install community owned renewable plants - such as solar panels - and sell the electricity that we generate through the National Grid.  This is your opportunity to get involved and invest in a resilient energy future for Mid-Somerset.  Community energy is real power to the people - so join us and be part of the energy revolution.

What's the story so far?

ACE covers Glastonbury, Street, Shepton Mallet, Wells and surrounding villages. Set up as a Community Benefit Society, ACE aims to bring community-owned renewable energy to Avalon, whilst generating funds for the local area to address issues such as energy efficiency in homes and high energy bills for those on low incomes.  After a busy six months in which ACE undertook a search for suitable roof tops and carried out a programme of community engagement (enabled through government funding), we are now almost ready to begin our first installations of solar panels on rooftops across the region.

How will the money be used?

To facilitate this next stage, ACE has launched a Pioneer Share Offer - assisted by Somerset Cooperative Services - that offers investors an exciting opportunity to support the growth of community-owned renewable energy in Somerset  We’re thrilled to be moving into this new phase for Avalon Community Energy. This Pioneer Share Offer will allow us to raise the funds to establish our first solar installations, grow our community business and pay for important development, technical and project management costs. 

Firstly, we want to begin installing solar panels on buildings in the Avalon area wherever possible, delivering energy to places where it will support public services and people in need and elsewhere supplying it to the grid with the support of Feed in Tariffs. 

Brookside Academy primary school, is typical of the type of building on which we would like to add solar. It has a large roof with good aspect, which we have been able to survey and develop a plan for installing 88kWp of solar PV. The energy generated would be sufficient to provide both cheap electricity for the school itself (with estimated savings of over £2,000 per year on energy bills) and a return on investment that would allow us to build up reserves and pay interest to member investors.

Another location that we could add solar generation to very soon is the business park and former landfill site at Evercreech Junction. Communities for Renewables have carried out a basic assessment of the site's solar PV potential; the extent of the roof space available means that up to 173KWp could be installed there. Productive discussions with the site owners hae led them to sign an exclusivity agreement with ACE. In addition, we are considering the possibility that this might be a suitable location for the more diverse energy park that we have in mind.

What's in it for me?

Depending on your tax status you will be eligible for 50% tax relief on your investment, via the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. SEIS is a government tax incentive intended to encourage full risk investment in early stage enterprises in certain sectors of the economy. This means for every £100 you invest you can claim £50 of tax relief (though this is capped for ACE at £131,700’s worth of investment which can attract tax relief. That means that if we raise over £131,000 and in the unlikely event that every investor claims SEIS, only the people subscribing for the first £131,700 can be assured of getting SEIS reliefs which they are eligible for).

Crucially too, we have a one member-one vote system. Every member no matter the size of their share holding, can only have one vote on things like electing the board of directors or key policy decisions affecting our development as an organisation.  

Who can buy shares?

ACE is not just about powering the community, it's also about empowering it. Whilst we welcome members and encourage investor members from outside of our area, our society is set up so that the local members control how we develop and grow. For this reason, every £1 you invest; you get one share. The minimum investment for local residents - living within Mendip District - is just £50. For everyone else it's £500.

ACE's Business Plan 2014/16

The business plan below was written a year ago and does not specifically support this share offer but sets out the direction of travel for ACE between 2014/16. We have achieved many of the objectives set out within the document as follows:

1) A feasibility study has been written for ACE by an independent energy consultant,  considering a range of sites in the Avalon area, which provides ACE with the information it needs to aid its decision making processes regarding potential sites, technology and business models. 

2) Extensive community engagement has taken place across the area with the objective to develop a significant support base.

3) We have identified a portfolio of projects which we wish to pursue and are at the stage of wishing to carrying out specific studies and apply for planning permissions and grid connection agreements as required.

4) We have developed links with potential installers and requested quotes for specific projects, e.g. Brookside and Evercreech Junction.

Since writing the Business Plan, we have also changed our status to a Communty Benefit Society, because we want to be run primarily for the benefit of the community at large, rather than just for members of the society. 

In terms of our future plans, this is a pioneer offer, that is, it provides working capital for feasibility and development work and is not based on fully costed projects, and has uncertain financial projections.  It is our intention to move as quickly as possible to time bound offers, which raise finance for specific projects with more certain outcomes.

 

FAQs?

Read the share offer document which includes a section on 'risks to your investment' and our FAQs

 

Important Documents

 

 

Generating not-for-profit energy, owned by you

 

 

 

 Risk Warning Funding pitches through Crowdfunder.co.uk carries some risk. There is no guarantee for members making donations that any reward offered will be delivered. Equally, when members invest in community shares the capital they invest is at risk and they may not get back what they put in. Rewards based crowdfunding and the sale of community shares are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, nor covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Click here to read more about the risks.
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