Though it is hard to believe, we have just reached the end of our first whole year of solar electricity generation. We have made great progress. Our prediction was to produce 42,000 kWh per annum. As of 10-12-12 I can confirm that we have reached over 47,000 kWh and therefore expect to meet our financial projections for the year. To add some further perspective, 47,000 kWh is the equivalent of 26.5 tonnes of carbon saved! (For those with any further interest carbon calculation, have a look at http://realtimecarbon.org.) Of course, we will share full details of our performance at the next AGM. Until then we hope you enjoy taking a look at the performance data from time to time and seeing the system in action!
We have another piece of good news to share. On Friday 12th of October, Leominster Community Solar received the Robert Owen Sustainable Communities prize. The Robert Owen Group has three core elements of education, training and regeneration. You can find out more at www.robertowen.org. As a cooperative organisation the group re-invests surplus income in projects based in our communities in the UK and overseas. It is wonderful to have been recognized for such an award and we have received a handsome trophy which we hope to display in some way at the Sports Centre.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you at the AGM in June.
We’ve now made realtime data from our solar array available online here. The eagle eyed will notice that we have already gone over the 42,000 kWh predicted in our share offer document – must be because we’ve had such a sunny year! The monitoring equipment has only recently been fully configured which is why the monthly graphs only start in mid-October, but as you can see we now have up-to-the minute data so you can spot individual clouds as they pass (almost). Congratulations to Ben and the team for getting this sorted – isn’t it great?
Our latest meter readings are in and our output is higher than we had anticipated at this time. We are still working on a more automated solution to provide regular updates of performance on the site so please continue to watch this space!
All members should have received a copy of the AGM minutes electronically recently. A total of 18 members attended this lively meeting where a range of subjects concerning the coop, its running and rules were raised and discussed. A number of questions were asked and responses to these are included in the minutes.
As a reminder, we have received approval for EIS and the forms been sent out to members. If you have not received one or did not initially request one, please get in touch with Eithne: email@example.com.
Finally, as you may have seen on other correspondence, there are a number of other opportunities and openings that members may be interested in and that are listed here.
Sheffield Renewables (hydro) launched on September 15th with more details here: http://www.sheffieldrenewables.org.uk/
Brixton Energy (solar) share offer is currently Take a look at: http://brixtonenergy.co.uk/
Drumlin (wind) share offer is also underway: http://www.drumlin.coop/
Best wishes for a sunny autumn.
The co-op has received approval for its application for EIS tax relief, which it submitted earlier this year to HMRC. This scheme entitles eligible members, who have £500 of shares or more in Leominster Community Solar to claim back (through their tax bill) 30% of the value of the shares.
EIS is a tax mechanism to encourage investment in new enterprises and at the previous budget the proportion which could be reclaimed was increased from 20% to 30%. However, it was also removed for renewable energy schemes in receipt of FiTs, with the exception of community projects like ours.
Members who have requested a form, have been sent one. Any that still require one, should get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
11,951 kWH. That’s the production figure until 17 April 2012, which is over 10% above that predicted for the period! We’re hoping to install a fully automated system soon so system production figures will appear in near-real-time on this website, watch this space.
Leominster Community Solar supported Friends of the Earth in their legal challenge to government over the proposed cut-off date of 12th December, which was before the consultation closed. FoE were representing the community sector and members of the public who wished to install solar, but who didn’t have the means to mount a legal challenge themselves.
We were delighted when just before Christmas, the judges at the High Court ruled in our favour, declaring the 12th December date illegal. It was disappointing to hear that the government intended to appeal this decision at the Appeal Court (as the High Court said there were insufficient grounds to appeal there). We feel this is a further waste of tax payers money and the added time involved has left the solar industry in limbo. We await the outcome of the appeal judges decision and support FoE in their letter urging the government to act now to resolve the situation.
On 19th January we learnt of the government’s intention to lay proposals before parliament for a revised date of 3rd March, to replace the 12th December, in the event they do not win their appeal. This does not affect our project but we believe it’s an important point of principle, to ensure the FIT scheme is run in a fair and transparent manner in the future, enabling all members of the public who want to invest in renewables to do so with confidence, and to enable the industry to grow and invest in research and development.
We have met the target of £150,725 for the share issue and we’re actually oversubscribed!
Thank you to everyone who has supported the project, we are delighted with this response, it’s been overwhelmingly positive.
The share issue will close as scheduled on 22nd December. Any cheques received after this date will be returned as soon as practical in January. Share certificates will be issued according to the timetable set out in the share offer document.
Please be advised that our office will be closed over Christmas, so any applications arriving after the 22nd will not be acknowledged until January.
Many thanks and Merry Christmas!
Thank you to all of you who made it out last night, for what was a fantastic evening, to celebrate the installation and registration of the array before the proposed deadline. Over 60 people attended, which given that at the start of the event we had 71 members in total, was an impressive turn out.
Ben Whittle and Eithne George, as directors from Leominster Community Solar spoke, to explain the history of the project and the roller coaster that the last few weeks had been, due to the government’s FIT consultation. Naomi Andersson, manager of the Hereford branch of Southern Solar, located in Leominster also spoke and accepted a gift from the Co-op for all her efforts in ensuring the project happened to schedule. Likewise James Cooper, the project manager was thanked for his efforts and the whole Southern Solar installation crew – which at times had included even their sales manager, in the bid to get it up in time! Councillor Adrian Blackshaw also attended and gave his support to the initiative, along with Cllr Felicity Norman, who has been very instrumental in getting the project up and running and spreading the word amongst the green community locally. Andy Talbot, Technical Director from Halo, gave an overview of the energy reduction strategy that he is pioneering at Bridge Street, that he is rolling out to all the other Herefordshire leisure centres in his charge.
Thanks also to Southern Solar, for providing the locally sourced refreshments.
Questions were taken and a number of people decided to increase their original investments, whilst other new members also came forward. Collectively this meant that £27,750 was received in cheques at the event – bringing us within about £6,500 of reaching our target on the share offer! And there are still 8 days to go before the end of the share issue. We are confident now we will reach the target, particularly with pledges that have been made, but we would urge anyone locally who is still thinking about investing to get their cheques in as soon as possible, as there will be priority for local members in the event we are oversubscribed.
Thank you everyone – it is a great feeling that we are nearly there!
We will be holding a celebratory event at the Bridge Street Sports Centre in Leominster on Tuesday 13th December between 6-8pm, to mark the successful completion of the installation and its registration for FITs on Friday before the government’s proposed cut-off at midnight last night.
All are welcome. Please RSVP to email@example.com if you are planning to attend, so we can get an idea of numbers. There will be drinks and light refreshments.
We still have approximately £55,000 to raise before the close of the share issue on 22nd December, so please keep spreading the word!
And we just heard from Good Energy that our application for FiTS is accepted. See you Tuesday – members and potential members all welcome!