In early November this year, the UK Treasury announced they would be removing community energy from the SEIS and EIS investment schemes –in effect slashing the return on investment and dis-incentivising potential investors. The news was pretty catastrophic for many community energy groups, although, after the intensive attack already waged on the solar industry and ‘green crap’, it sadly was not a surprise.
Community energy groups were suddenly in a rush to beat the 27th November deadline, or potentially waste years of hard work and effort as the opportunity to complete their share offers was overnight reduced to a matter of weeks.
Fortunately, groups such as 1010, already immersed in green campaigning to #saveoursolar, responded quickly with support and began compiling a map of all the investment opportunities in community energy, open until the deadline.
Investing in community energy is important to us as a business, and we work closely with several highly successful community energy groups here in Cornwall. Already keeping a close on eye on developments and announcements from Government, the attack on community energy was personally upsetting. Sometimes it takes an event like this, invoking a strong emotion, to galvanise us into action.
So, with the 1010 map constantly open on my browser tab, I decided that, as I was in a fortunate position to do so, I would personally invest in every open community energy share offer.
I figured, if the government were going to continue with their attack on the solar industry by destroying the hard work of volunteers, investing in making their communities resilient and supporting people in fuel poverty, I would do whatever I could to support as many projects as possible to go ahead. So did many other people across the country, and, amazingly, community energy groups raised over £13,000,000 in a matter of weeks.
It turns out, it’s quite a lot of work for someone who is not a natural when it comes to paperwork, and I have no idea how I will keep track of the financial side of things, but then that wasn’t really my motivation. Yes, it makes financial sense, and I’m sure the investment will turn out to be a wise one, but it wasn’t my main motivation.
Investing in community energy is an investment in a group of people using their own time and resources to make a positive difference. It is an investment in the future for our children and grandchildren*. It supports communities to work together, to build a strong and resilient infrastructure of energy and social networks that will support them into the future.
In total, I managed to invest in 27 community energy groups, and I now get a regular stream of emails with updates on progress, detailing how various green energy technologies will be benefitting the communities involved. Those messages, the sense of achievement and knowing each of us, as individuals, can really make a difference is worth every single penny.
Community energy groups will continue to give their own time and effort to grow and develop what they believe in, but they will need our support now and into the future more than ever before.
*I’m a little way off grandchildren at the moment! 😉