Dorset Community Energy launched the first community investment share offer in Dorset at the Wessex Royale Hotel, Dorchester on Friday 5th June. The offer will be open for 1 month between June 5th and July 4th, and provides local communities with the opportunity to collectively own high-tech PV solar panels. The development of the Dorset Community Energy solar panels scheme has been supported by the Big Lottery Communities Living Sustainably in Dorset programme.
The aim of the share offer is to raise £135,000 to fund 6 solar panel installations on 3 schools and 3 village halls in the Dorchester and Bridport area. The 3 village halls (Martinstown, Osmington and Salway Ash) have recently been installed with solar panels using a short-term bridging loan, while the 3 proposed school installations are scheduled in August. It is hoped that all 6 installations will be fully operational by Autumn 2015.
Local community members are invited to invest in shares, each at a value of £1. The minimum investment is £100 and the maximum £10,000. All shareholders will become members of the Community Benefit Society, which will oversee the 6 installations and ensure their long-term sustainability.
It was noted on Friday that membership makes both environmental and financial sense. The solar panels will produce low-carbon, free-of-charge electricity to each of the 6 buildings, with any surplus going to the national grid. It is estimated the energy created from these panels will displace the equivalent of 42 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and provide approximately £200,000 of free electricity to the combined 6 sites over a period of 20 years.
Dorset Community Energy has applied for Advanced Assurance for the Government’s ‘Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme’ (SEIS) tax relief, meaning that taxpaying members have potential to claim back 50% of their investment as tax relief. Upon considering interest and capital repayment, the internal rate of return (IRR) is projected to be 6.3% over a 20-year period, and 13.8% with SEIS.
However prospective members should consider membership a long-term investment and are advised to read the Share Offer document available on the website www.dorsetcommunityenergy.org.uk in full and take independent financial advice before making an investment.