The Shropshire and Telford Community Energy working group have been busy over the last couple of months, finding out what’s required in running a community energy society.
We’re looking at what other groups have been doing, discussing model rules, studying the roles of directors, thinking of PR campaigns etc.
We aim to have the community benefit society set up in July and be in a position to launch our share offer in October.
We are awaiting a revised version of the financial model for buying Twemlows but it now looks as though there will be a bond offer shared amongst all the six organisations in the CoRE portfolio with us having to raise around £700,000 through a community share issue.*
We have four volunteers willing to stand for the main posts of the society: Robert Saunders as Chair, Tim Baldwin as Vice-Chair, Fran Hunt as Treasurer and Dave Green as Secretary. These four are assisted by Howard Betts, Naomi Wrighton, Nick Saxby and Rebecca Tee.
Nick has offered to set up facebook and twitter accounts, Dave is looking after the website.
As part of the CoRE Next Generation programme we’re also being offered a grant for feasibility studies for further community energy schemes in the Shropshire and Telford area.
If you have any ideas that you would like to have added to our long list please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll have a good look at all ideas but obviously we can’t promise they’ll all be taken up.
A word from our Chair-elect, Robert Saunders: “I am very happy to be in this role whilst looking to colleagues for much support in this challenging task. Much work will have to be done in a short period of time. We are learning quickly with much professional help from our partners. I look forward to being able to launch our share offer to Shropshire and Telford folk and wider afield.”
Nick Saxby comments that “Being a part of this project has been challenging and rewarding. My background is conservation and education, so I’m really interested in promoting sustainability generally, but I didn’t have experience in the renewable energy sector. There has been a lot to learn about the technicalities of managing a project like this, but thankfully, STCE and the broader consortium has put me in contact with a fantastic network of skilled, experienced and, importantly, helpful professionals, who have made the process very enjoyable.
“The covid-19 lockdown has itself been a challenge, but also an opportunity to build networks and learn new things digitally: I’ve never had so many webinars! I’m passionate about working for the benefit of local communities, and I’m optimistic and ambitious about what STCE is going to be able to achieve in the coming years”.
* Bonds are normally a shorter term investment, up to ten years with an agreed repayment schedule and interest rate. Shares are a longer term investment with the capital repaid gradually but as finances allow. Only shareholders are members of the society. More details will be contained in our share offer document.
Dave for the STCE Working Group
We managed to run one face to face meeting to kickstart the working group in Ash Village Hall on March 14th, just before the lockdown. We’ve had two online meetings for those who couldn’t make it on the 14th and will be holding further online meetings for the working group during April & May. It will be harder for the working group to get to know each other without face to face meetings but we’ll just have to manage.
We had over 50 people attend our launch events in Whitchurch, Shrewsbury and Wellington with 22 people indicating they’d like to take part in the next working group stage and 14 indicating a willingness to become a Director. Many thanks to Keith from CSE, Simon from Co-operative Shares Unit, and Julia from Shropshire RCC.
You can see the slides from the event here
It’s not too late to get involved.
We will have another event in Bishop’s Castle 2pm Fri 21st Feb, at the 3 Tuns.
and a webinar 7pm Wed 26th Feb,
We have also visited the Twemlows site and met with the landowner and operations manager, both of whom were interested and supportive. The site appears to be well built and well maintained.