Two not-for-profit organisations have clubbed together in order to provide Westmill Solar Co-operative – the UK’s first and world’s largest community-owned solar farm – with specialist management services.
The partnership between Ethex and Registry Trust will see the pair oversee accounting, secretarial and investor management duties for Westmill, which confirmed last week that it had successfully purchased its project.
Building on the triumph of its predecessor, Westmill Wind Farm, the solar co-op launched its share offer in June and ended up being 50% oversubscribed, as it surged past its £4m target over the summer. In total, the project raised provided £5.8m worth of shares to 1,646 members, with Investec Bank signing a multi-million pound loan agreement to bring the development’s total up to £16.5m.
Ethex and Registry Trust will now take on a number of roles in order to assist Westmill’s operation runs smoothly. This includes keeping tabs on shareholders and issuing share certificates and dividends, in what is the first contract that the partnership has taken on.
“We very much welcome this new service”, said Adam Twine, founder and director of Westmill.
“Our directors are working on a voluntary basis, so a not-for-profit service like this both meets our needs and matches our values.”
Jamie Hartzell, managing director of Ethex, said the contract not only benefits the companies involved, but also the Westmill shareholders.
“We see this service as perfect for groups raising money from their local community who have none of their own staff, as is often the case for renewable energy schemes”, he explained.
“It means that they can undertake these initiatives on a voluntary basis but still offer shareholders a highly professional management service.”
Ethex is a not-for-profit organisation that gives information on ethical investment and will officially launch its investor platform later this year. Its aim, as Hartzell told Blue & Green Tomorrow in October, is “to get as many people as possible investing truly ethically”.
Meanwhile, Registry Trust, according to its chief executive Jon Hale, “has over 25 years’ experience of managing public registers on a not-for-profit basis, working in the public interest and promoting a healthy economy.”
The partnership between the two organisations means businesses in the social economy now have a management service tailored perfectly to the ethos of the industry, and being not-for-profit means both firms reinvest any surplus into providing better service.