Community Solar Energy

A Lichfield-based Community Benefit Society run by volunteers called Chase Community Solar (CCS) have developed an innovative project with the support of Cannock Chase Council to install PV panels on the roofs of up to 400 of their council-owned bungalows. This will be financed by a community share offer which was launched at the beginning of November.

ccsheader905There are many similar community energy projects around the country, but CCS believe this is the first in the UK to raise money through a community share issue to benefit council tenants.

The council tenants, many elderly, will receive free electricity when the panels are generating and the Society will receive the government Feed-in-Tariff, which will enable it to pay its investors a forecast 7% average interest rate over the life of the project.

CCS have quite a challenge on as the minimum they need to raise for the project to go ahead is £370,000 and the more they raise, the more roofs they can do and the bigger the surplus they will make. It is hoped the surplus will be large enough to create a fund for community projects.

The board of CCS is composed of the same individuals who created Southern Staffordshire Community Energy which successfully launched a community share offer in 2011-12 to install PV panels on the roofs of St Giles Hospice and the village hall in Whittington. These now generate free electricity for those organisations during daylight, while the Feed-in-tariff pays a modest but fair interest rate to the member shareholders. A community fund was also established in 2013-14 and energy efficiency work was undertaken at 5 community buildings.

For more information on the scheme, see this link.

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