Riverside noticeboard for the Old Mill hydro project

BWCE have collaborated with another local environmental group to install an information board on the South side of the River Avon at Bathampton enabling visitors to learn all about the BWCE owned hydro-electric water wheel at the Old Mill Hotel on the opposite bank. BWCE member Steve Cross has produced the display board and volunteers from the Friends of Bathampton Meadows Riverside have installed it.

The information board charts the history of water power from its use by the Chinese two millennia ago, through its significance in powering the large cotton mills of the Industrial Revolution through to today when water power is back on the agenda as one of the sources of renewable energy contributing to the fight against climate change.

Steve Cross said “We are proud to be a local pioneer in this industry, rebuilding and reopening the waterwheel in late 2016, hosted by the Old Mill Hotel.  Currently it supplies about a third of the hotel’s electricity requirement and in total can generate the equivalent annual electricity to power twenty homes.”

The Bathampton Meadows Riverside volunteers used re-cycled timber and the loan of tools from a local builder to produce the stand for the board. Peter Fear said “Once you get into the mindset of ‘refuse, re-use, re-cycle’ it becomes the norm to think of alternative options rather than buying new. We are keen to keep our carbon footprint closer to a lightweight slipper rather than a big boot”.

The Friends of Bathampton Meadows Riverside was set up to maintain and improve the beautiful riverside space at Bathampton Meadows. Volunteers from both Bathampton and Batheaston have been working tirelessly to improve the area for both wildlife and visitors.

The Past, Present & Future of Community Energy

On Saturday 15th June 2019 BWCE and Comtek organised an event on the Past, Present & Future of Community Energy to raise awareness of the history of alternative/renewable technology locally and emphasise the importance of community energy today and in the future in responding to climate change

The Museum of Bath at Work hosted the event to coincide with an exhibition celebrating 50 years since the setting up of Bath Arts Workshop, including Comtek (Community Technology), which was concerned with ecological issues, recycling, alternative technology and the future of sustainable living on a local level.

 

 

The event was chaired by Robert Llewellyn (Red Dwarf, Scrapheap Challenge and Fully Charged) and included contributions from Max Wakefield from 10:10 Climate Actionformer Comtek members and BWCE.

Listen to the presentations and the panel discussion (courtesy of Phil Shepherd, Bath Arts Workshop)
Read about the event at the Bath Newseum

Responses from B&NES Council election candidates to BWCE questions

In the run up to the Bath & North East Somerset Council elections on 2nd May 2019 we sent a series of questions to all political parties standing candidates in the elections on their policies to:

  • Achieve 100% clean energy by 2030 (as proposed in the Climate Emergency Declaration, March 2019)
  • Increase community ownership of renewable energy.
  • Promote community engagement around climate change action.
  • Take the first practical steps to implement proposals in the Climate Emergency Declaration.

All local parties were approached, and responses were received from the following (in alphabetical order):

  • B&NES Independent Group (BIG)
  • Conservative Party
  • Green Party
  • Labour Party
  • Liberal Democrat Party

 

Here are the full responses from the parties:  BWCE Council Elections - Responses to BWCE Questions

Help us to promote our share offer

Our latest share offer was launched on 8th February and you can see how much has been raised so far by going to Invest in BWCE

With a minimum investment of £100 and a target interest rate of 4% we would like to reach as many people as possible to build support for our clean energy mission. For anyone who is willing to promote the share offer to their family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues we have produced a short information sheet which you can download here

BWCE opens new share offer

To all those who have been asking how they can become a member of BWCE or when they can buy more shares, we are delighted to be able to finally open our latest share offer. See here to review and download the share offer document. You can see more information about the share offer on our website here

Please get involved if you can. Help us do our bit to reduce our collective impact and, through positive action, add your voice to creating the political space for our leaders to implement the ambitious response to climate change and energy security we desperately need.

As well as making a clear statement of support for what we are trying to achieve, becoming a member of BWCE will also provide you with the opportunity to get involved in a not-for-profit community enterprise, democratically run by its members based on one member one vote. An organisation that is committed to carbon reduction and delivering community benefit, whilst still offering a fair rate of interest to its members and investors.

BWCE Supporters Network meeting March 21st

Our Supporters Network engages BWCE members and non-members alike in reaching out to the wider community to mobilise more people around community energy and climate change action. Our two working groups (CoCO and Technology) have been meeting regularly to develop various activities including information briefings, stories of success, visual displays, educational workshops, public events and research into local use of renewable energy technology.

Our next Supporters Network meeting will take place:
Thursday 21st March 2019
6.30 to 8.30pm
Friends Meeting House, York Street, Bath BA1 1NG

As well as a session on Climate Conversations we will be hearing about the ideas coming out of the working groups and providing you with a chance to support these activities. In addition, we will be discussing how we can all promote the new BWCE share offer to provide a chance for as many people as possible to invest in community energy.

For more information on the Supporters Network contact [email protected] or call 07517 100889.

Climate Conversations workshop

On Thursday 31st January, despite the arrival of snow, 30 people attended our ‘Taking the Heat out of Climate Conversations’ workshop at the Museum of Bath at Work. Guided by facilitators Susan Johnson (Zero West) and Paul Hoggett (Climate Psychology Alliance) we explored how to have more positive climate conversations with friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues.

 

 

It was a practical workshop, mixing small group conversations with input on psychological theory to help us explore the resistances and ethical dilemmas we encounter when trying to talk about climate change.

An online platform has been set up to enable participants to continue to share experiences and the topic will be re-visited at our next Supporters Network meeting on 21st March 2019.

New community owned asset management business – Bright Renewables

BWCE’s asset management services have transferred to Bright Renewables, a new business wholly owned by its community clients. Bright Renewables acquired Mongoose Energy’s asset management business with financial support from Community Owned Renewable Energy LLP which is funded by social investors Power to Change and Big Society Capital.  Mongoose Energy will be wound up in due course, once it completes the sale of its assets and settles any remaining obligations.

The first clients and owners of Bright Renewables are all former Mongoose Energy members, including BWCE, but new community clients will be joining shortly. Mongoose Energy’s asset management staff also transferred over to the new business.

We are delighted to be part of this new community owned enterprise. Becoming 100% community owned was always part of the Mongoose Energy plan. We are pleased to see that vision coming to fruition.

Celebrating the BWCE Community Fund

On the evening of Monday 28th January 17 Bath area community projects which have received funding through the Bath & West Community Energy Fund plus BWCE Fund trustees, BWCE trustees and Quartet Community Foundation staff joined the Mayor and Mayoress of Bath in the Mayor’s Parlour in the Guildhall to celebrate the achievements of the fund.

 

This year 11 community organisations have been awarded over £31,000 for projects ranging from improving the energy efficiency of community buildings, sharing and repairing items, promoting the use of electric bikes, recycling, reducing the use of plastic bottles and planting a community orchard.

You can read an article about the Community Fund in the Bath Echo here

You can find out about all the projects funded in 2019 here

BWCE’s new share offer

We will soon be opening a new share offer to enable us to continue raising capital to deliver new community renewables projects, including new community solar PV roofs and our innovative Solar Streets pilot, that includes installation of domestic solar PV and battery systems.

As some of you know from recent discussions, we are not in a position to raise new finance with the same target interest rate as previously, especially in light of the ending of the Feed in Tariff in April 2019 for new projects. So we intend to launch the new share offer with a target interest rate of 4%, potentially rising to 5% as new markets develop over the next few years, and with a minimum purchase of £100.

We will of course continue to honour all past commitments to our existing shareholders with regard to target interest rates. We are bound to meet the terms of all previous share offer documents and neither we, nor any future board can vary these terms in the future.

But we do hope you will be able to support the offer when it opens. We hope you will be able to help us continue to grow and increase our impact. We will be heavily marketing the offer in our area to increase local membership, so please spread the word!

Latest reports about climate change tell us that we need an urgent and rapidly escalating response to carbon reduction. We need to make our voices heard, let our leaders know through positive action that there is real demand for an ambitious response that is proportionate to the threats we face. What better way to do that than by ensuring your positive action supports a local community business committed to delivering community benefit rather than commercial profit.