Community Energy Cooperative a First For Bristol

A locally-based energy cooperative in Bristol has just issued its first share offer with the aim of building and owning community renewable energy projects that will benefit the city as well as providing a financial return.

The first objective of the group is to install solar PV arrays on a number of community buildings. Income received from Feed-in Tariffs will help to pay interest to investors as well as providing funds for future initiatives such as energy efficiency measures, renewable heat installations and domestic solar PV.

Bristol residents, it is hoped, will buy shares in the project. The group aim to raise some £90,000 in this way and their plans have been supported by an initial grant of £11,000 from Bristol City Council's Community Energy Catalyst Fund. Bristolians will be able to buy shares for as little as £50 and the group will officially launch its share offer this week at Hamilton House, an old office block in Bristol's Stokes Croft district which has been converted into a community centre and arts venue. The first project will consist of 20 kW of solar PV on the roof of Hamilton House and also Knowle West Media Centre on the western side of the city.

"When a number of community groups across the city were looking at forming energy co-operatives we pooled our skills and resource, and this is the result - an ambitious scheme that opens the benefits of green energy to all and will leave a lasting legacy for the next generation" said Mark Corbin.

"The first phase will see the installation of approaching 200 solar panels on to roofs of community buildings in the Bristol area. In addition to making a return to investors, the project will deliver wider social benefits with energy cost savings supporting the work of community organisations and surplus money supporting other community groups with green energy projects in the area."

The project has been delayed somewhat by the continuing debacle over tariffs but is now at last operational. The share offer ends on May 18th.

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