Cheltenham Quaker Meeting
Recipient of QPSW Sustainability Grant
The Gloucestershire Community Energy Co-op (GCEC) is a new Co-operative set up to identify potential renewable energy projects and help to arrange their installation. The installations are paid for through selling community shares to local individuals and organisations. The community building benefits from free renewable electricity, and profits from the Government’s “Feed in Tariffs” (FITs) provide an income for investors, pay for the management of the project, and fund other community energy-saving schemes. In the last few months GCEC has identified nine community buildings throughout Gloucestershire with suitable roofs for solar pv panels.
The sustainability grant from QPSW was awarded for publicity to kick-start the project, as, although the co-operative will be financially as well as environmentally sustainable in the longer term, we need a share prospectus and leaflets to encourage investors, at a stage when we don’t have any income.
We were nearly ready for the share launch, when the Government announced that they were slashing the Feed in Tariffs by more than half, with 5 weeks notice. This has altered our business plan and meant we are delaying installation for eight of the communities. However, we already had planning permission for the Gloucester Resource Centre, so are arranging installation within this time period, to benefit from existing FITs, and raising money initially through short-term loans. Local people, including Quakers, have been generous in allowing this to happen.
All this has meant that we haven’t spent the grant yet, as the urgent pleas for loans happened by email, because of the timescales. However, we are intending to launch the share issue in the New Year, at least for the Gloucester Resource Centre and possibly for more of the projects, depending on further news from the Government. Gloucestershire Quakers are engaged with the project, financially by lending and investing money, and politically, in responding to the Government consultation.