We’re celebrating reaching a landmark £1million in our ambitious fund-raise to bring the renewables revolution to Bristol and the South West. Our £5 million solar projects are even closer to reality thanks to investors raising record sums for our cooperative in just a few months.
This £million milestone has been raised, in part, through a bond offer, which will now be extended until 31 March to give more investors the opportunity to contribute to the development of clean, community-based energy. The extension comes with enticements for investors: those investing in the bond offer before 31 January and 29 February will accrue interest from 1 February and 1 March respectively.
Our bond is a 3-year product that gives expected returns of 6% per annum, repaid after 3 years. Upon completion, investors have the option to cash in their bonds, extend it beyond 3 years at 5% per annum, or to convert into shares.
The bond offer has been launched to bring a large-scale 4.59MWp array at Puriton, Somerset into community ownership. The purchase of this already-built site will take our community-owned capacity to 4.7 MWp, generating a predicted 4,700MWh per year of clean energy. This will save more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 over the solar farm’s 25-year running life.
We are additionally raising funds to purchase and build a solar farm on a second site near Avonmouth, which will take its capacity to 9.3MWp, and install solar panels on around 20 community buildings across the city.
Local investment put into action
We’ve wasted no time in putting this £1million into action in order to make a difference. Solar panels have been installed at Brentry and Henbury Children’s Centre and Easton Community Centre. The latter building had already benefitted from a previous fund-raise and, along with other initiatives, saved 50% on its energy costs.
Benefits to the community
We’ve paid our members the target interest rate on their investment for the last three years. Surplus profits from the bond offer will be reinvested into a community fund that local groups can apply for. BEC’s community fund payments from its existing schemes have helped fund free advice sessions on energy deals, bill management, and maximising energy savings. Details on how to apply will be given later in the year.
Andy O’Brien, one of our co-directors said:
“We are thrilled to have raised over £1 million in such a short time frame against a backdrop of government changes to the solar energy sector including the end of EIS tax relief for community energy investments. We welcome the news that our bond offer will be extended to 31 March to give even more people an opportunity to invest.
“It is a testament to the fact that people are realising that our energy supplies don’t need to be in the hands of the “big six”. Community energy puts energy into local control as well as offering a return on investment. We are proud to be at the heart of this renewable energy revolution with Bristol and the South West leading the way.”
The bond offer has been independently approved as a financial promotion under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. It is running in association with the community energy firm Mongoose Energy and is available through the award winning positive investment and savings platform, Ethex.org.uk.
Jan-Willem Bode of Mongoose Energy said:
“The exceptional interest we’ve seen in the bonds highlights the strength of the sector and gives an extra incentive for people to back these local, renewable energy generation schemes that plough additional profits back into the community, financing projects that address issues like biodiversity and energy poverty.
“We believe this to be part of an emerging trend, now the government has removed EIS tax relief for community energy investment, that more bencoms will launch bonds or similarly high-yielding products that offer savers a better interest rate than the average high street bank.”
The bond offer seeks to raise £2.662 million and has a minimum investment per applicant of £500. It is open to anyone over the age of 18.
For further information on the project and how to invest, visit: www.ethex.org.uk/Bristolbond
Investment decisions must only be made on the basis of the share and bond offer document and not on information provided in this release. Your original investment capital may be at risk and any return on your investment depends on the success of the Puriton solar array and Bristol Energy Cooperative’s business as a whole. You should read the offer document in full, including the risk factors set out in the offer documents, and the terms and conditions regarding this offer at ethex.org.uk before investing. You should consider taking appropriate financial and other advice before making any investment decision.