Pete Capener gets MBE in New Year Honours list

Huge congratulations to our very own Chair and founder director Pete Capener on getting recognised for 30 plus years of work in the clean energy sector. He received his award of the Member of the British Empire, or MBE, in the 2015 New Year Honours list for ‘services to sustainable energy. Presumably they will be casting a special medal for him, and fellow sustainable energy champion Barbara Hammond, in recycled metal with a reused cloth bit that it hangs on.

You can read more about Pete Capener and his lifetime of toil in the clean energy vineyard here

The Bath Chronicle reported the story thus with Pete quote as saying  “I’m very pleased to have the work that we’ve been doing on community energy acknowledged, recognised and valued. It’s good to see that this is an area of activity that is regarded as important.” He went on to say it would be increasingly important for communities to take control of their energy destiny by finding sustainable ways of generating their own power.

And so say all of us – very well done Pete

New sideboard wanted

Not content with being named Leader of the Year at the UK Community Energy Awards Pete Capener, our chair, has just added another trophy to his groaning sideboard. He was voted South West Sustainable Energy Champion at last week’s ‘Renewable Futures and Green Energy Awards’ held in the Assembly Rooms in Bath. After years of work championing the once unfashionable community energy sector – congratulations Pete – you deserve it.

BWCE Fund extended

BWCE-Fund-LogoFollowing feedback we have decided to extend the time for applications to the BWCE Fund. The fund is open to local groups to apply for grants ranging from £500 to £5000 for low carbon and fuel poverty projects. The new closing date will be 23 January 2015. Quartet are administering the Fund for us so visit their website and download the Criteria and an Application Form. If you have any questions as to what does and does not qualify, or have an idea for a project you need to check out, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Third Share Offer closes early

homepage-share-offer-doc-photoIt won’t have escaped your notice that we have had a share offer running to raise £1.6 million to build the Wilmington Farm Solar Array. It all looked a bit hard going with 2 weeks to go but, as seems to happen with these things, over a £1 million flooded into Ethex in the final 2 weeks. In fact we reached our target and had to close 5 days early. So a huge thank you and welcome to all our new members and a big thank you to all our existing members who re-invested.

Sorry if you missed out – there will hopefully be another share offer in the New Year so sign up to our newsletter if you’d like to be the first to know. The lesson, as my dear old investment advisor used to say, is that ‘the early bird catches the worm’ – though the portfolio of Annelids he recommended hasn’t being doing so well of late.

BWCE mentors new groups

We are delighted to have joined the Energy Mentoring programme, led by Co-operatives UK. The new scheme helps groups navigate the often complex financial, regulatory and organisational hurdles faced by ventures looking to develop community energy projects. Read more about the Energy Mentoring programmer here or the full story from the Bath Chronicle.

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…

We’re double winners

We’re delighted to have won two awards at this month’s Community Energy Awards. BWCE won Community Energy Company of the Year and our chair Pete Capener was awarded Leader of the Year. Pete said, “After many years in the clean energy business it is very satisfying to receive this award. Not many years ago we were a few enthusiasts from Transition Bath sitting round a table with a great idea. Now only four years later we have been recognised as one of the leading community energy companies in the country.”

Many thanks to the Community Energy Awards for this recognition, and congratulations to all the organisations and people who were nominated. You can see the full list of winners on the Community Energy Awards website.

Finalists in the UK Community Energy Awards

BWCE have been selected as one of the three finalists in two categories for the UK Community Energy Awards. BWCE (and all its members) have been shortlisted in the Community Organisation of the Year category. And our Chair Pete Capener for the Leader of the Year. Pretty impressive we think – so a big thank you to all our members and supporters for getting us so far, so fast. Many of them will be at the award ceremony on the 4th September in Oxford. You can read all about the awards by following the link here

The Community Energy Awards provides an opportunity for organisations and individuals to receive recognition for the work they do in helping communities take control of their energy bills and transform the energy system. So in our view all Community Energy groups should be winners. However it would be especially nice if BWCE and even more especially nice if Pete C ended up actual winners. Does anyone know a judge?

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.
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BWCE and Community Owned Solar Farms

There has been a scramble to build larger solar farms in the past year and practically all of these are commercially owned. These larger projects have been too expensive to develop ourselves but we have been talking to several project developers with a view to buying their projects, once permitted, so that they become community owned. Ironically, it is easier and cheaper to obtain a bank loan for the large projects than the small ones. These projects are in the range 2 to 7 MW so are a step up from the projects we have developed ourselves. If successful they would help us to get to our 2015 target of having £10m invested in community owned projects. At this level we would be starting to make a significant contribution to local energy needs and place BWCE on a sustainable footing for future growth.

Read more…