BWCE is a not for profit community benefit society, owned and run by our members for the benefit of the community

Our vision is for a local area able to supply decreasing local energy demand with increasing generation from renewable energy, driven by collective action and community ownership.

Our focus has been on developing clean local energy, community-owned for the common good.

Bath and West Community Energy's Local Areas

Our area of benefit covers Bath & North East Somerset and parts of Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire that border B&NES.

These renewable energy projects have been funded by a mixture of bank debt and community fundraises, with over £9 million raised by members and bondholders. Members become shareholders in BWCE. The principle of one member one vote, regardless of shareholding, forms the foundation of a democratic approach to organisational governance.

We do not distribute profits to our shareholders, but we do pay interest on their investment. Additionally, we recycle cash surplus back into local communities via an independent community fund and to date we have distributed £145,000 to support local community projects acting on carbon reduction and fuel poverty.

Our members play an important role in the organisation, electing the majority of our board from their number, and engaging with key strategic developments like new areas of work and the development of our business plan. Members have also expressed interest in getting more involved in the delivery of our projects and work programmes.

Our priorities for the next 3-4 years, as set out in the business plan overview, are to increase local participation and local profile, launch a local energy supply tariff, increase community renewables capacity, and innovate with new technologies and new approaches to local energy markets.

Our Structure

Bath & West Community Energy is a Community Benefit Society. This means that:

  • We are primarily for the benefit of the community at large, rather than just for our members. For more details see our Community Benefit page.
  • Membership is secured through a minimum shareholding of £100
  • We have democratic decision-making built into our structure, one member one vote.
  • Members can stand for election to our board, see here for information on current board members
  • We can pay interest on members’ share capital but we cannot distribute surpluses to members in the form of dividends. 
  • We have an asset lock that protects the founding principles and ethos of the business.

 BWCE is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Our registration number is 30960R

Achievements to date

Origins

Bath & West Community Energy was established in June 2010, following discussions between members of local community groups, Transition Bath and Transition Corsham.

Renewable Energy Installation

We have installed 12.35MW of renewable energy, enough to power nearly 4,000 homes and reducing carbon emissions equivalent to the carbon footprint of nearly 1,000 B&NES residents.

This includes solar pv on the roofs of eleven schools and four community buildings, five ground mounted solar arrays and a modern water wheel.

See Our Projects

Funding and Finance

We have raised over £16 million through community finance plus debt from Triodos bank, to build our renewable energy projects.

We have secured £850,000 in grant funding from Power to Change, Friends Provident Foundation, B&NES Council, Innovate UK, UK Government and the European Union, to help develop new renewables and deliver energy demand management projects.

We have also distributed nearly £200,000 to support local community carbon reduction and fuel poverty projects via our independent Community Fund.

Our annual accounts can be downloaded from the AGM pages for each relevant year here.

Energy Demand Management Projects

In addition to the installation of renewable energy we have run projects around energy efficiency and energy demand management.

  • Empower, funded by Innovate UK, Flex Community, funded by Power to Change and the European Union, both projects test(ed) household participation in shifting electricity demand from peak times.
  • Solar Streets, funded by Power to Change and Friends Provident Foundation and part of Western Power Distribution’s programme of substation monitoring, Open LV. The project installed solar PV and batteries in two streets in Bath, worked with householders on demand management and monitored electricity usage at two local sub-stations.

Support for Other Community Energy Groups

We have supported other community energy projects to raise £8 million through community fundraises and to install 13MW of renewable energy generation, enough to power 4,000 homes. 

Other community energy organisations we have supported include:

Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy, Low Carbon Gordano, Frome Renewable Energy Coop, Chelwood Community Energy and Kennet Community Energy and we are currently working in partnership with Keynsham Community Energy to develop new projects.