#OwnIt – Bristol Energy Cooperative launches community solar investment fund
4th November 2015
Bristol Energy Co-operative (BEC) has launched a £5-million clean-energy investment fund for solar projects in Bristol and the South West.
The fund will be one of the UK’s final schemes to give people seeking to investment in ethical, green-energy projects, access to 30% tax relief from the government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme, following the Treasury’s surprise announcement on Monday to remove this incentive on 30th November.
Investors have the opportunity to invest in BEC’s share offer with this 30% EIS tax relief and a projected 5% return until Monday 23rd November. The fund raise will be used to develop two solar farms and solar roof top schemes for around 20 community buildings in Bristol.
As a late amendment to its Finance Bill, the UK Government has unexpectedly decided to exclude community energy from SEIS, EIS and SITR tax relief.
Commenting on the launch, Andy O’Brien, co-director at Bristol Energy Cooperative, commented: “We believe our share offer hits the right notes for investors interested in getting a good return for their money and delivering wider social and environmental benefits at the same time. Our #OwnIt campaign, of which this EIS share offer is the first phase, provides a real opportunity for people to connect with the impact of their investment and get the most out of the EIS scheme before it’s mothballed by Government. What’s more, by lowering our entry level to £50, we’ve made it as easy as possible to join us and our current investor community.”
Mongoose Energy, a Bath-based community renewable energy developer, is providing support to the Co-op on the #OwnIt projects.
“It is great to be working with Bristol Energy Cooperative” Jan-Willem Bode, managing director of Mongoose Energy, says. “These projects will probably be among the last under the old advantageous Feed in Tariff (FiT) regime but more importantly they also will qualify for real tax breaks under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). All of which means not only can we provide a good financial return but also generate real community benefits. However you need to get your application in quickly as it is due to finish at 12 o’clock on 23 November.”
Bristol Energy Cooperative’s #OwnIt campaign
The Co-op’s fund raise is being launched with an EIS share offer and a low minimum investment. Investors need to get in quickly as the offer is only open for 25 days, closing on Monday 23 November. New investors will join a community of like-minded individuals and enjoy the collective benefits of a good return on investment, ownership of local renewable energy resources, long-term green energy for community organisations, and the re-investment of surplus income back into local communities.
Funds will be invested in:
- solar rooftop installations on buildings such as Brentry Children’s Centre, Hartcliffe community farm, Marlwood secondary school, and the Architecture Centre.
- a 4.2 Megawatt local solar farm at Lawrence Weston.
- a second 4.6 Megawatt solar farm near Puriton in Somerset.
Money doing good
In its previous share offers, the Co-op raised £247,000 from over 200 investor-members, and installed solar panels on community buildings including Hamilton House in Stokes Croft, Knowle West Media Centre, and Easton Community Centre.
Rachel Clarke, Communications and Press Officer for Knowle West Media Centre, said: “In the first year after installation, we saw our use of mains power drop by a massive 25%. Combining the solar panels with a collaborative effort to reduce energy just goes to show what you can achieve when new technologies and personal action come together.”
Julian Weston, Finance Manager of Easton Community Centre, adds: “The solar panels plus other initiatives we have taken have reduced our energy costs by a factor of 50%. We think it’s a fantastic project because that saving, not only is it green and kind to the environment, it’s enabling us to use that money on other things around the centre.”
Investors in the Co-op have so far enjoyed an annual return on their investment of 4%, and this year this rose to 5%. Taxpayer investors have also been able to claim tax relief on their investment. Alexandra Pickford, a local pioneer investor in the Co-op, said: “I invested because I wanted to do something to change our local energy situation and see a good return on my savings. This empowers a lot of people who can come together and makes you feel very good that you are doing something towards it.”
Hear more from BEC’s investors
How to invest
Bristol Energy Co-operative has selected Ethex, an online investment platform, to market the share offer and be the receiving agent for applications. Ethex specialises in positive investment for social businesses. Applications for the Co-op’s share offer can be made at www.ethex.org.uk/bristol
The Co-op will also be launching a bond offer shortly as part of its fund-raise.
Further information about the Co-op and its investment opportunities is available at www.bristolenergy.coop
The value of an investment may go up as well as down. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. An investment in the shares offered in the Share Offer carries risks and you may lose the whole value of your investment. Please consider this carefully in the context of the complete share offer document and related information and, if needed, seek independent advice.