Raising Awareness of BWCE and Increasing Impact

Can you help us spread the word?

BWCE is embarking on an ambitious plan to build better awareness of our work across Bath and the surrounding area and to develop the networks and partnerships we need to promote new community energy and low carbon initiatives. At our recent AGM, we managed to gather lots of ideas of who we should be talking to through a community mapping exercise and we now want to build on this.

Central to this venture will be the development of a Supporters Network. This will comprise a network of people interested in helping BWCE promote what it’s doing – from forwarding on emails/social media to creating new connections and having more conversations with more people.

A number of members have already expressed an interest in being more involved in supporting BWCE. We are now inviting members and non-members to join us to explore what we can do together.

Supporters Network meeting
Wednesday 26th September
6.30pm
Bath Royal Literary And Scientific Institute, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN

At the meeting we will:

  • Discuss the Supporters Network – what’s it all about, what are we seeking to achieve?
  • Explore some of the ways you can get involved, from simply sharing our news to a more extensive involvement for those with the time and inclination to do more.
  • Present the community map and plan how to use it and develop it further.
  • Explore what information and support you need to be effective.
  • Decide how we communicate and keep in touch with each other, without burdening you with information and meetings!

Come along even if you just want to find out more. Attending the meeting will not be a commitment to do anything! In order for us to get a sense of numbersit would be great if you could let us know you are planning to attend, please email [email protected].

If you want to discuss the meeting before attending you can call Nick Bird (BWCE Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator) on 07517 100889.

Interested in Transferring Funds From Your Existing ISA?

BWCE’s Solar Bond is available via the new crowdfunding platform, Mongoose Crowd, and eligible for investment via the Innovative Finance ISA. 

Have you used up your existing ISA allowance for the year or have an ISA that is not performing as you would wish? 

Mongoose Crowd has just launched a new service that will enable you to transfer your existing ISA to the BWCE Solar Bond, held in an Innovative Finance ISA wrapper. Thus retaining the tax free benefits available to holders of ISAs. 

 

Transferring ISAs in this way means that you can transfer cash from your current Cash or Stocks and Shares ISA to an Innovative Finance ISA. If you wish to transfer a Stocks and Shares ISA you will first have to sell any investments you have before the funds can be transferred to Mongoose Crowd.

Please note that the ISA rules set out by HMRC require that you can only pay in to one Cash ISA, one Stocks & Shares ISA and one Innovative Finance ISA in any given tax year. The maximum combined amount you can contribute across all your ISA accounts in 2017-18 is £20,000.

You can transfer as many previous years’ ISAs as you wish, and the amount you transfer doesn’t affect the current ISA allowance of £20,000 in year 2017-18. So, for example, if you choose to transfer £5,000 from an earlier ISA, you can still contribute up to £20,000 into your current 2017-18 IF ISA allowance, meaning you can make a total IF ISA investment of £25,000.

You can choose to transfer some or all of the money held in your other ISA accounts. For example, if your current ISA holds £10,000, then you may choose to only transfer £4,000 to your Innovative Finance ISA.

You will need to register first with the Mongoose Crowd platform to arrange the transfer of your ISA but the process is relatively simple. If you get stuck you can find more information here or get help by calling 0330 223 0062 or emailing Mongoose Crowd.

 

 

Change of Registry Service Provider

Bath and West Community Energy

Change of Registrar

4th July 2017

We have moved the registry service provided to date by the Community Shares Registry Company (CSRC) to Neville registrars Ltd. The registry service is run by a separate organisation that holds details of your shares and bonds with clear data protection safeguards, pays your interest and updates your personal details like your address or email when you change them.

As part of its service contract with BWCE, Mongoose Energy is responsible for overseeing the delivery of BWCE’s registry services.  Mongoose Energy has seen a rapid growth in investor numbers across the community enterprises it supports. This has driven a procurement process that has resulted in the appointment of Neville Registrars as a new service provider. The transfer of data will be managed by Mongoose Energy, reporting to BWCE’s board.

As of 10th July 2017, registry services will be delivered by

Neville Registrars Limited

Tel: 0121 585 1131

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.nevilleregistrars.co.uk

Neville Registrars Limited,
Neville House,
18 Laurel Lane,
Halesowen,
West Midlands,
B63 3DA.

 

Below is a list of dates for your information.  You do not need to do anything during this transfer and new certificates will not be issued as the existing ones will remain valid.

30th June 2017 – Final date of Community Shares Registry Company services

3rd July 2017 to 7th July 2017 – Transfer period

10th July 2017 – First day of Neville Registrars registry service

You will not be able to make updates to your personal information during the transfer period.  Following the transfer all updates and enquiries regarding share and bond holdings should be directed to Neville Registrars.

Please direct any enquiries during the transfer process to [email protected].  We will be in touch in due course with updated contact details for registry updates and enquiries.

This transfer process will not delay the payment of bond interest on the 12th July for those bondholders that invested in the bond offer that closed on July 12th 2016.

Election of Non-Executive Directors

Are you a BWCE member and would you like to get more involved in running your company?

Non-executive directors play a key role in representing member interests on BWCE’s board. They also help to guide the organisation and hold the executive to account. Their term of office is normally three years. This is an important time for BWCE with a new business plan being developed for presentation on 27th September at our AGM.

If you are not sure what will be expected should you be elected as a non-execuctive director, rest assured you will be fully supported by existing elected members, experienced in what’s involved. BWCE’s board is structured with up to 5 non executive directors and 2 executive directors. See here for information about the current board and executive team.

In line with our rules, a number of our non-executive directors must stand down each year. However, retiring directors have the option to stand for re-election alongside other members who may wish to become involved.

This year Jon Bateman is resigning by rotation and will be standing for re-election. Jane Stephenson is moving from being an elected non-executive director to executive chair and so won’t be standing for re-election. As a result, the election this year will be for two directors to take the board back up to its full complement of 5 non-executive directors.

Download these documents for more information and how to apply

If you would like to put your name forward for election to BWCE’s board, download and complete the nomination form here, and return to [email protected] by 28th July.

For more information on what is involved click here to see the BWCE Director Role Brief or you are welcome to come to a meeting to explain the job of non-executive director on 19th July, at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution at 6.30pm. If you want to attend or you have any queries about the post please let us know on [email protected].

Directors of BWCE are responsible for the financial wellbeing of the organisation and its strategic direction. For further information click here to see a fact sheet on director responsibilities produced by Coops UK.

For key dates in the election of non executive directors in the run up to our AGM on the 27th September and the election policy click here.

 

BWCE Community Fund helps Time Bank Plus to Empower People to Grow their Own Food

Time Bank Plus has played a big part in building a healthy, vibrant community in Bath and the surrounding area, connecting individuals and groups, and providing a network for people to help each other and feel valued in their local community. This network facilitates voluntary work which allows clients to build up time credits, that they can use to benefit from other people’s services, or donate to those who are in greater need. Time Bank Plus strongly believes that everybody’s time is valuable and everyone has something useful they can offer, it’s just a matter of imagination. Donated credits allow those who require more help than they are able to give to be a supported member of the network.

timebank1Growing Together is an initiative Time Bank Plus started at the beginning of this year to provide everything people need to be able to grow their own food at home. Free training gives individuals the knowledge and practice required to start growing, and the Tuesday meetup group at Bath City Farm allotments allows those without their own gardens to get involved. People can also get in-home advice to assess how their space can best be used for growing, and a buddy scheme facilitates people sharing allotments or just keeping each other company while getting their hands dirty. Thanks to BWCE Fund’s grant, Time Bank Plus can afford to fund a development worker to train and support people, so that their knowledge can be passed on and benefit everyone involved in the Growing Together scheme.

The BWCE Fund was set up by Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE), as a separate charity, to deliver funding to a range of low carbon and fuel poverty initiatives. BWCE are a community benefit society that own and develop renewable energy projects. Surplus profit is distributed via the BWCE Fund with preference given to applications close to sites where BWCE have generating projects operating. BWCE Fund trustee Peter Andrews says ‘this grant was important to us because it reinforces the fact that ‘low carbon’ is about more than just solar energy. Growing food close to where it to be consumed is a major factor in reducing our emissions with the added benefit of providing local people with new skills and access to cheap healthy food’.

Groups that development worker Rowan Wynne-Jones has worked with include the Home Education group which has connected families – parents with children – that work together on a shared allotment to produce their own food, while educating themselves about growing.

Rowan also worked with young people at the local Youth Hub, who were initially very reluctant to get their hands dirty, but gradually broke down the barriers and got stuck in. They have built raised beds and created a vertical strawberry patch, taking ownership of, and rejuvenating unused spaces in their community. They will soon be celebrating their hard work when they harvest tomatoes and sweetcorn for a pizza-making party.”

Rowan has also been leading growing activities with individuals, including a lady with a young family who has improved self esteem through producing delicious homemade chutneys and jams from produce grown in her garden and on the local allotment. Other beneficiaries of the project include a mother with two young children. She wanted her kids to understand where food comes from so decided to transform her unproductive garden into a raised bed allotment, and has just had her first harvest of potatoes.

timebank3After half a year of hard work diligently preparing growing spaces and sowing seeds, suddenly all the plants have shot up, and everybody involved in Growing Together is now reaping the rewards of harvest season.

“It is very satisfying to see people empowered to grow their own, inspired to come together, and fostering greater connections to food. It has been a slow process of small steps but we are now being rewarded for all our hard work” Rowan Wynne-Jones , Development Worker

Energy Efficient Lighting Transforms Atmosphere at Carers Centre

The Carers’ Centre, first established in 1996, supports individuals and families who look after their loved ones. The centre helps over 4000 people every year caring for family and friends with all sorts of illnesses or disabilities. These carers span a wideage range, with their youngest carer only five years old and the oldest about to have their hundredth birthday. Services carerscentre1the Carers’ Centre provide include helping clients build the skills they need to look after their loved one, giving them breaks from giving care and providing emotional support.

An example of someone who has benefitted hugely from the support of the Carers’ Centre is Fiona who, when her husband John had a stroke, dropped everything to solely care for him. She gives the beautiful analogy of an aeroplane safety demonstration that instructs you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. Similarly it is impossible to give good care when you are not looking after yourself. At the Carers’ Centre she was able to take breaks, doing varied courses and activities such as creative writing and stone carving, and take the time needed to nurture herself. This naturally had the knock-on effect of being able to provide better care for her partner, as well as keeping her sane.  Most carers are juggling their responsibilities alongside a job, school, raising a family, and many other circumstances. While caring for someone can be rewarding, carers often experience high stress, exhaustion and loneliness, and the Carers’ Centre has been a lifeline for countless people.

carerscentre2In June 2016, the Carers Centre won the very well deserved Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations (PQASSO) Level 3 quality mark, the highest possible quality mark for small organisations, making them only the second organisation to ever achieve this. They pride themselves on excellent quality on every level, with hard working staff and volunteers who work as a  well coordinated team with strong leadership. They are also dedicated to listening to and learning from their carers.

Recently  Bath and West Low Carbon Community Fund CIO (BWCE Fund) made a grant of £5000 towards a desperately-needed new lighting system. The Community Fund was set up by Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE), a community owned energy company,  as an independent charity to distribute surplus profits to low carbon and fuel poverty initiatives.

The trustees of the BWCE Fund considered the replacement of older, less energy efficient lighting systems as a good use of grant funding as it has multiple benefits: saving carbon, creating a more pleasant working environment and being cheaper to run and maintain. The old fluorescent strip lights had degraded substantially and become considerably less effective. The funding helped replace them with new LED lighting which is much more efficient and has a longer functional life. The centre has seen a decrease in its energy usage since the change, and has also been able to fulfill its environmental policy. The lighting has also made a huge difference for poorly sighted clients, and has completely changed the atmosphere of the space, with much warmer, brighter, more natural light – due to the diffusers that were chosen. The centre regularly hosts craft fairs, and feedback from all the stallholders was that it was a much more successful and enjoyable event due to the new lighting.

carerscentre3“The lighting system has created a healthier, happier atmosphere with partially sighted carers more able to enjoy the space. It has had a positive impact on the lives of everyone at the centre, and on our energy usage”  Janine Woodward-Grant,
Deputy Chief Executive

 

Smart Metering

BWCE is working with Encraft on a new project entitled ‘Empower’. It’s testing a new approach to optimising energy performance in domestic buildings. It works by managing energy demand and supply across a community or portfolio connected buildings, rather than merely optimising energy demand and supply an individual properties. To read more follow this link to the article in the CIBSE journal

Pete Capener’s speech to the Smeatonian Society

Your Royal Highness, Smeatonians and guests.

Thank you for inviting me along tonight. I’ve been asked to give you a quick flavor of what community energy is all about.

I’d like to start by giving you up front my assumptions, you may like to agree or disagree, but for me they lay the foundations for why community energy must be a central part of the energy agenda going forward

First, I believe climate change and energy security represent two of the greatest threats to the human race… ever.

Second, the rate of reduction in carbon emissions in the UK may be sufficient to meet coming international commitments in 2020, but it is nowhere near enough to deliver a fair and equitable contribution to our global response.

Third, unless we drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels we are also offering our children a world in endless and rapidly escalating conflict.

Fourth, in order to build the acceptance for the scale and speed of change that these things require, we will have to totally rethink our relationship with energy.

Click here to read the rest of the speech

At the moment we are consumers, and passive consumers at that. We give our energy suppliers money, they give us energy – a fair exchange you may say. But it also instills a sense that we have the right to use as much energy as we want, or at least can afford.

Community energy challenges this assumption, shifting us from merely passive consumers to being active participants in a process of change.

The community energy vision has three elements, communities owning and benefiting from their own renewable energy projects, that supply energy back to local people, underpinned by a community led approach to demand reduction and energy efficiency.

And by community, I mean both geographically defined communities as well as communities of interest.

The first part of that vision, community owned renewable energy, is the most developed. It involves community enterprises owning renewable energy projects, offering the opportunity for local people to invest and earn a good return and then recycle profits back into meeting community needs. As a result economic value is retained locally, where it’s generated. But it also gives local people a stake in local projects, fostering positive debate and increasing acceptance as a result.

As one example only, Bath & West Community Energy has helped raise £10 million through community share offers that together with debt finance has helped commission or finance 15MW of community renewables, with a pipeline worth over £60 million. We have paid members 7% on their investment for the last three years and will recycle profits from these projects alone that will build to £250,000 per year.

This sector is still small and faces challenges around community capacity and investment readiness but the model is proven and the sector is rapidly growing, with hundreds of community enterprises around the country at various stages of development. Government has established the first ever UK community energy strategy with a 3GW aspiration, creating a fifty-fold increase in community renewables by 2020.

The second part of the vision, creating community controlled local supply coops, goes one step further by enabling local generation to be supplied directly to local consumers, increasing community benefits significantly.

Local supply coops face regulatory and scaling constraints, but there are business models that are emerging within the market that offer some solutions. These models look to aggregate community interests to generate the scale necessary to meet commercial challenges and establish a supply licence.

Together community owned generation and supply offers a radically different way of doing business. One that is based on strong commercial and financially sustainable business principles, but one that also offers a different take on who benefits and who controls.

The third and final leg, a community led approach to energy efficiency and demand reduction involves building a sense of collective purpose, a sense that I am not alone and so my actions can make a difference.

For example a community dimension within the roll out of smart meters and the development of smart grids could increase the visibility of what is happening on energy across a whole community rather than just in our own homes and create new discussions between friends, family, neighbours and colleagues.

Or the delivery of area-based insulation schemes or bulk discount schemes illustrate how the trust and credibility of local community networks can increase the take up of energy efficiency measures.

This is perhaps the hardest area to make progress around. For many reasons, but in particular it’s hard to develop viable business models that value and reward the added value of the community contribution and so community action remains primarily volunteer led and grant dependent and so becomes difficult to replicate and scale.

So to summarise –

The community energy vision is built on three three foundation stones, community owned renewable energy, community controlled energy supply and community led demand reduction and energy efficiency.

These three strands are progressing at different speeds, they face different challenges and there is much to do to make them a reality. But together they offer a different way of doing business on energy, a way of fundamentally challenging our assumptions about energy and forging a response to climate change and energy security that is truly fit for purpose.

BWCE loan and the ‘call-in’

BWCE have been negotiating a loan from B&NES council for the Wilmington Farm Solar Array. The proposed loan was to be over 15 years and at 6.5%.  As you may have read in the local papers the loan was ‘called in’ by 10 Conservative Councillors. This meant we had to undergo examination by a scrutiny panel made up of Councillors from B&NES to make sure that the loan was legitimate and in the best interests of the council tax payers.

As it is part of the democratic process and as a B&NES council tax payer myself, scrutiny is something to be welcomed. We asked our members to write to the panel to help present our case, and at less than 48 hours notice, they responded heroically. A brave number even registered to speak in for our case.

Read more…

Scaling up Community Energy: a how-to Guide

First Published by Brighton Energy Co-op by Will Cottrell

We’ve done well. Really well. The 40-odd energy coops that exist across the country have so far raised £18m quid for spanking new renewable installations. In 2013 131 new energy coops were registered, so we’re looking forward to seeing things grow hugely in 2014. Exciting times.

Reclaiming the Energy Sector

And yet while this is a fantastic achievement, things need to be bigger still. A few years back I went to an imaginatively-titled seminar ‘Reclaiming the Energy Sector’. It was – and is – a great aspiration. Yet what it really showed to me was that – for communities to really grab the energy sector from the behemoths that currently own it – we need to get much, much larger.

How could that happen? The biggest energy coop in the country provides an instructive example. Spread across 30 acres, Westmill Solar Coop raised £16m in 2011 to take ownership of a 20,000 solar panel (5MW) installation. Westmill has over 1600 members and is the world’s largest community-owned solar farm: Brilliant. But an important aspect of Westmill is that their solar park was already built. A private developer did the legwork, the community took ownership a year after it had been plugged in.
Read more…