Nearly £30,000 up for grabs as Bath & West Community Energy Fund opens for applications
Bath & West Community Energy Fund opens for the fourth year running to applications from local organisations that want to shrink their carbon footprint or address the real issues of fuel poverty and climate change.
The fund, nearly £30,000 this year, comes from Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) as part of the work it does in supporting the communities in which it operates.
The fund has in the past awarded 28 grants for a total of £90,988 with money going to schools, community groups and a variety of local environmental organisations. The 2017/18 programme opened 28 September and runs until 17 November. Applications are sought for grants of up to £5,000. Full details of the grants awarded can be found on BWCE’s website
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.
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
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.
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.
Overall our project portfolio performed 5.4% below target in the year April 2016 to March 2017, with the Portworthy project performing 10% below target.
Whilst there have been some minor operational performance issues, that are now largely resolved, the most significant reason for the lower performance has been lower than average sunshine levels.
Analysis suggests that sunshine levels during the last two years have been significantly below average at all our sites.
Evidence suggests that longer term performance should return to predicted levels.
Performance against targets
Our total project portfolio performed 5.4% below target during the financial year to end March 2017 compared to a just below target the previous year (Fig. 1). Fig. 2 breaks down performance for last year by location.
Because the publicly available data is modelled rather than actual observed data we also wanted to check how accurate the modelled data might be compared to the real world. So the graph also provides data recorded at the Meterological Office Station at Yeovilton, which is in the same area as the Crewkerne site.
The actual observed data at Yeovilton shows a strong correlation with the modelled data we are using at Crewkerne. The strong correlation between the observed and modelled data here increases our confidence in the modelled data for our other sites as well.
The long-term data from Yeovilton, illustrated in Fig. 4 below, emphasises the unusual nature of the last couple of years. The data suggests that the last time sunshine levels were as low as this was in the early ‘90s. The long term average from actual observations at Yeovilton, is within a couple of percent of the 8 year average shown in Fig. 2.
The overall trends in the modelled data summarised in Fig. 3 shows a good correlation with our project generation performance over a longer period outlined in Fig. 1.
Overall, this means that the last two years have delivered significantly below average levels of sunshine at all three locations, suggesting that in the long term we should see better performance.
 Sunshine hours are defined by the met office as the amount of time that direct solar radiation exceeds 120 w/m2. This is not as accurate as measuring actual solar irradiance, which is what we do at our larger sites. Sunshine hours do not take into account indirect solar radiation, of which we get a lot. However, it has not been possible to source historical irradiance data for comparison.
It’s helpful to take stock every now and then and consider whether we are doing all we can in whatever our chosen walk of life. So as we develope BWCE’s plans for the next few years, it seemed like a good idea to consider what has been achieved locally on renewables and what can we do better?
An analysis of the Ofgem database on installed capacity (with a little help from Joel at Regen) tells us that by 2010 we had around 150kW of renewable electricity in Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) and by 2016 this had grown to over 22MW. More detailed analysis is underway for the areas just over the border in nearby Bradford on Avon and Corsham. But as data is most easily extracted for whole local authority areas, this analysis is just for B&NES at this stage.
The massive drops in 2013 and 2016 show the impact of the significant cuts in the Feed in Tariff by central government. 2015 however was boosted by the installation of two large community owned solar arrays by BWCE and Chelwood Community Energy.
So, in 2010 we had enough renewable electricity generation to provide the equivalent annual electricity demand of around 30 homes. By 2016 that had grown to around 5,300 homes, or 7% of the homes in B&NES. This is no mean feat, particularly considering that around a third of this capacity is community owned – thanks to the efforts of BWCE and our friends at Chelwood Community Energy. With Keynsham Community Energy also up and running and looking for its first sites we know for certain there is a lot of enthusiasm for local action on renewables.
In the last 6 years we have seen community solar on school roofs, large scale solar arrays as well as a beautiful new modern waterwheel – all developed through a strong community model.
Over their project life, these community renewables alone will put millions of pounds back into the local economy and offer tangible examples of what can be done when we act together.
However should you ask the question, ‘is it enough?’ The answer would have to be a definite ‘no!”
If you compare renewable energy in B&NES with what’s been achieved across the UK in terms of onshore renewables, as a proportion of electricity demand, we are only at a third of where we should be. Whilst we have ‘over delivered’ in terms of solar PV. We have not even got onto the scoreboard with wind. The fact is over 99% of capacity in B&NES is solar. There has been barely any new wind generation installed since 2010.
It is vital now, if we want to meet our targets, that we move the dial on wind energy. It’s not as if we don’t have the sites. The renewable energy resource assessment B&NES council carried out in 2010 showed that we have significant potential for medium scale wind energy projects.
We know that central government has made the situation a lot more difficult with tighter planning constraints and cuts in subsidies, yet as BWCE we are still looking for new sites that could garner local support.
Technology costs are falling and we are not that far away from being able to develop subsidy free projects. So we also believe there is still potential for more solar PV, other technologies like anaerobic digestion and heat pumps, as well as exciting new opportunities for innovative technology and energy supply arrangements including storage and peer to peer trading.
We at BWCE we will be continuing our policy of member consultation with a meeting on 22 April at the Old Mill Hotel – the site of our new, modern waterwheel. At the meeting we will put forward our proposals for the next few years and get members feedback so that together we can continue to make an impact within the rapidly changing local energy market. If you are a member or bondholder and are interested, you are more than welcome to come along. The meeting will start at 2pm and end at 5pm.
You are also welcome to stay on to 6.00pm when we, with some fine guests, will be raising a toast to the waterwheel.
Just before Christmas despite some exciting flooding, and in time to qualify for the reserved Feed in Tariff, the Waterwheel at the Old Mill Hotel in Batheaston started turning and generating clean energy for the hotel. Big thanks to all concerned especially the fine workers at Hydrowatt. Click on the picture below to see the waterwheel working in all its glory
The waterwheel has the capacity to generate 13.5kW of electricity – which may not seem much but assuming reasonable river conditions it will generate clean electricity 24 hours a day 365 days a year – thats about 67,000 kWh per year, enough to meet the equivalent annual electricity demand from 20 homes. We hope that the waterwheel will also act as an education facility and a tourist attraction.
Why don’t you visit the Old Mill Hotel, grab a drink and watch this fine piece of engineering in action.
The project to install the waterwheel at the Old Mill Hotel is nearing completion. The waterwheel is now complete with the addition of the wooden panels.
There was slight delay due in work last week due to flooding.
However the flood bypass and the trash screen (yes, that is a picture of a trash screen on your left) are now installed. The electricians, I am reliably informed, are coming on Tuesday and once they have finished the testing of the entire installation will start.
The water wheel at the Old Mill Hotel is looking splendid. Please do pay it a visit and buy a beer or a glass of wine in the downstairs bar, as part payment for the disruption caused to the Old Mill staff and owner, while we have been building the waterwheel.
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.
Growing 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.
After 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
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 the 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.
In 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.
“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