COMMUNITIES are celebrating another funding windfall thanks to two renewable energy schemes, which in future will operate under the same Community Benefit Society (CBS).
A £1.44m loan has allowed Resilient Energy Alvington Court Renewables (REACR) to boost its community owned renewables portfolio through the acquisition of Resilient Energy Great Dunkilns (REGD) in St Briavels.
Both turbines generate clean, green electricity to help meet local demand, while also benefitting the local community, with funding for the acquisition supplied by investment fund Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC).
REACR has made new grants to support community projects in the Alvington and Aylburton area and to build “community resilience”.
A total of £12,710 was presented to Alvington Parish Council, including £10,560 towards drawing up plans for a new multi-purpose community centre and sports pavilion at Alvington Recreation Ground.
Another £1,750 was paid towards the installation of Pocket Park play equipment at a new play area at Garlands Road with facilities for younger children, plus extra play facilities at Alvington Recreation ground near the wind turbine, with a further £200 towards new junior goal posts there for use by Lydney Youth Football, and £300 to Alvington Bell Ringers to improve teaching space within the bell tower.
In addition, £2,410 was allocated to Aylburton Parish Council last year towards speed calming measures on the A48 through the village.
REGD has allocated over £75,000 since its establishment, with recent grants of £2,978 going to MacKenzie Hall in Brockweir to support improvements, and £920 to the St Briavels Chapel for creation of a wheelchair accessible path to improve access to its toilets which are open to the public.
Projects previously backed include a rocket digestor utilising waste food installed at Wyedean school; repairs to the Assembly Rooms and church organ; equipment for the Memorial Field and Pavilion; support for school initiatives; equipment for the village football and cricket clubs; support for other community groups and environmental initiatives, including a bee project by the gardening society; £5,000 towards improvements in X-ray facilities at Lydney Hospital; and support for the installation of defibrillators in St Briavels and Brockweir.
REGD was founded in 2012 by St Briavels farmer Anthony Cooke and The Resilience Centre, a Woolaston-based social purpose business focused on responding to the climate emergency, and was the UK’s first crowd-funded wind turbine, giving ordinary people the chance to invest in the project via debentures.
To achieve this, the project had to become a public limited company (plc) structure, which over time has resulted in additional administrative costs, while REACR, developed in 2016, and two other 500kW turbines in Stroud district, follow the Resilient Energy community model under a CBS structure.
Sue Clarke, Director of REACR (and TRC), said: “It makes sense to bring REGD into an established community benefit society structure with similar aims and the REACR board were delighted to secure SASC support for the society to enable the acquisition.
“Combining the two projects, with the help of the SASC loan to buy back the debentures, results in a number of cost efficiencies and will generate a significant increase in the society’s surplus over the life of the two projects, increasing the community benefits achievable.”
Ben Rick, managing director of SASC, said: “We’re delighted to invest in another community energy project that will benefit individuals and families in fuel poverty.
“Community energy projects are on the increase in the UK as communities look to provider greener energy solutions and surpluses for the benefit of their local area.”
Both turbine projects give four per cent of turnover to help address current community needs and future community challenges.
The next deadline for applications to the St Briavels Wind Turbine Community Resilience Fund is on May 31. Applicants can apply at www.resilientenergy.co.uk/REGD.
Completion of the acquisition creates a new opportunity for existing REACR members, previous REGD debenture holders and others interested in investing in the combined community energy project portfolio via a new REACR share offer which will open shortly. Further details at www.resilientenergy.co.uk/REACR, or preregister interest by emailing REACR@theresiliencecentre.co.uk
For more information on TRC and its Resilient Energy community model, visit www.theresiliencecentre.co.uk