Wight Community Energy (WCE) has finalised a renewable energy deal with the Isle of Wight Council. The new £1.7 million funding deal will bring a 3.95 megawatt peak (MWp) solar array into community ownership. The backing by the Isle of Wight Council, a £2.88 million Close Brothers Bank loan, and crowdfunded investments make WCE’s funds total over £5 million.
WCE’s share scheme – which projects annual returns of up to 7% – is still open for private investors through the ethical fundraising platform Ethex.
The funding from the council also takes the total raised to 93% of its target – with the community energy organisation beginning its final push for investment.
WCE forecasts £2.4m will be generated for its social benefit fund over its 20-year running life, financing carbon-reduction, energy-efficiency and fuel-poverty-reduction programmes on the island.
The 3.95MW site is already built at Homestead Farm to the north of Newbridge and will generate 4.68 MWh of renewable power each year; enough to support over 1,300 typical homes.
The site’s income through the Feed in Tariff is fixed for 20 years and not affected by recent government moves to reduce tariffs. The income from the sale of electricity is then used to pay interest on members’ shares, with a target of up to a seven per cent return, and to fund the community benefit scheme.
The council’s Executive member for economic sustainability, Councillor Ian Stephens, said the funding: “demonstrates the council’s commitment to the environment and renewable energy on the Island. We view it as an excellent investment for the Island – and it has been funded as a growth project from our capital receipts, with the support of the council’s Scrutiny Committee, Executive and Full Council.”
The council will receive a £204,000 return plus its original investment after two years.
Colin Palmer, chairman of WCE said: “We’re delighted the council has joined over 100 private investors, which includes the Footprint Trust sustainability charity, to help bring this array into community ownership. By doing this, it helps bring investment into the community and fund much-needed initiatives that help our most needy.”
Mongoose Energy has played a considerable role in helping WCE develop the project and get funding. Its CEO, Jan Willem Bode said: “We were established to pass on the considerable expertise that exists in well-established community energy firms with new organisations so they can access great financing, be well managed and profitable both for investors and for the community benefit fund. Being one of the UK’s most southern community solar sites, the array receives some of the best solar irradiance and is, therefore, a key project for the community energy sector.”
Breaking the £5 million barrier puts WCE into its final funding push, with the offer set to end on June 30th. To find out more on how to invest download WCE’s share offer document or visit iowcommunityenergy.org.