Community-owned energy: how to sideline the big energy companies

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Posted Nov 1 2013 by Jon Halle of Sharenergy

A quick Halloween update from Sharenergy. We’re very proud to say we are involved in 4 great share offers at the moment – spanning wind, hydro, solar and woodfuel technologies and across a swathe of the UK from Somerset to the Highlands via Mid-Wales and Leicestershire. It really feels as if the community energy revolution is starting to happen.

It may be a little while until the next group of share offers comes along so if you have any funds to invest then now is a good time – all of these co-ops also accept applications for membership on behalf of children (who become members when they reach 16) – as a gift it beats socks hands down!

First to end on 9th November is Wedmore Solar. For those with an aversion to risk this is a pretty good choice as it is already built! In fact you can attend the launch party on 2 November – see website for details. 80% of shares sold to date.

Next up on 30 November is Llangattock Green Valleys Micro Hydro, which is set fair to be Wales’ first hydro co-op. This is only the first of an exciting ‘pipeline’ of hydro projects put together by this brilliant organisation. 30% of shares sold – they need and deserve your support.

Also ending on 30 November is Dingwall Wind Co-op‘s share offer. Remarkably, it will be Scotland’s first 100% co-op owned wind turbine. 75% of shares sold already – but be aware that if you live in England you’ll probably not be allocated shares as local demand is so great.

Last chance to buy shares this year and ending on 11 December is JCC Community Woodheat. This is in some ways the most ambitious project of them all – aiming to heat an entire school with locally sourced woodchip. Uptake has been slow to date but has picked up recently – they’ve sold 42% of shares so far and have put in an enormous amount of hard work. If you’re not so familiar with the technology then please do feel free to call them or us with questions – it’s a very well thought-out project which offers great social, environmental and financial returns. You can even buy shares online here.

At the same time we’re working with a lot of projects at an earlier stage of development. Initial development funding and support for community groups is more available than it used to be so if you have a project in mind please get in touch and we can help you apply to the various sources. We’re always happy to chat through options and ideas if you’re just starting out too.

We’re also running a couple of very early-stage ‘pioneer’ share offers with projects who need funds to get them through planning. We don’t publicise these widely because they are inherently more risky – but if you’d like to consider supporting projects when they most need your support then please tell us and we’ll contact you to discuss in more detail.

Jon

PS. A note on tax. The projects listed above have taken steps to qualify for 30% EIS tax relief. If granted that means if you put in £1000 you’d get £300 back off the taxman. You don’t need to do self-assessment, be wealthy, or invest more than £250. Each project is different so see project share offer documents for details. HMRC will not make a binding commitment that a share offer qualifies for EIS until it is up and running so there are no promises – and while most taxpayers will qualify you should check with HMRC that you do. There are further possible tax benefits to EIS such as reduction in Capital Gains Tax. Pioneer share offers are designed to attract SEIS tax relief at 50% and if the project fails loss relief should also be available – so a 40% taxpayer might only risk £300 when buying £1000 of pioneer shares.

By Jon Halle of Sharenergy Co-operative