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East Swindon | November 23, 2017

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Residents could soon invest their own money & pensions in renewable energy

Residents could soon invest their own money & pensions in renewable energy
Dale Heenan
  • On March 24, 2014

Residents could soon invest their money and pensions in Renewable energy projects to give them reliable long term incomes, and help the town reach its goal of 100% of low carbon and renewable energy being generated locally.

On Thursday 3rd April, Swindon Councillors Dale Heenan (Covingham and Dorcan) and Oliver Donachie (Haydon Wick) are advocating the set up of a Social Enterprise, such as a Co-operative or a Mutual, to promote Collective Energy Switching and encourage community investment in low carbon and renewable schemes.

Swindon Borough Council has set an ambitious target to locally generate 100% low carbon and renewable energy by 2020 to create local jobs and help reduce energy bills. Collective Energy Switching has helped cut the gas and electricity bills of a hundreds of families in Swindon, with some people saving up to £300 each. John Lewis is one of the most well known co-operatives in the UK, while Westmill is a local cooperative which funded the Watchfield Wind Turbines and Solar farm.

Councillor Dale Heenan, “Renewable energy schemes like Solar Farms cost millions of pounds to build, but can generate returns of between 6 and 10% for the pension companies and private investors who provide the funding. To achieve our ambition of 100% renewable energy by 2020, we must create the environment where business is willing to invest in Swindon. But I believe that we must also create opportunities for local residents to benefit by investing their own money.

We have the big six energy companies, but I’d like us to have the big sixty. 60,000 people taking part in Swindon’s Community Energy projects. If someone has £250 or £10,000 to invest, great, but through the Social Enterprise, we are advocating new ideas to really remove the barriers and make investing accessible to everybody. For example a “renewables kickstarter” could allow people with £20 to be involved.

The pension reforms announced by the Government also mean we have a golden opportunity to provide an alternative reliable long term income for people who do not wish to buy an annuity.

Work on the A419 Solar Sound Barrier is going well and it looks like it can be completed on a not for profit basis, but the M4 is perfect for a commercial investment. I would like to see these fast tracked over the summer and be our first community owned energy projects.”

Submitted council motion

This Council,
1) Recognises the excellent work that has occurred on the Collective Energy Switch programme, which has cut gas and electricity bills for hundreds of families across Swindon.

2) Notes the continued cross party support for initiatives to deliver on the November 2013 Full Council decision to, “lead the development of renewable energy projects that demonstrate clear local economic benefits, and will aim for Swindon to generate genuine low carbon energy to power equivalent to all residential properties by 2020”

3) Recommends that the Cabinet Member for Finance establish a Cabinet Member Advisory Group to consider the business cases for any Swindon Borough Council investment in renewable initiatives to ensure continued support in an open and transparent manner.

4) Requests that the Cabinet Member for Finance present a report to Cabinet as soon as practical on setting up a Swindon Energy Social Enterprise to provide a mechanism to continue promotion of Collective Energy Switching within the borough, assist in delivering allowable solutions for zero carbon homes, allow residents to invest in renewable schemes and try new funding models such as a ”renewables kickstarter” to secure community investment from £20.

Proposer: Dale Heenan
Seconder: Oliver Donachie