Community solar investment scheme gets off to flying start
Cllr Dale Heenan, “The country’s first council solar bond scheme got off to a blazing start after more than £100,000 was invested within the first 24 hours, and £600,000 in the first four weeks. This method of finance could be the way we can make the solar sound barriers come to life”.
Article from Swindon Advertiser:
Swindon Borough Council is behind the development of a solar park at Common Farm inWroughton and is in part funding the scheme through investment from the public. Once the farm is running it will offer a return on the investment as well as providing income for the council. A target of £1.7 million has been set to allow the farm, which will produce 4.8 MW of electricity which will be put into the grid.
Over the next few weeks, residents will be sent more information about the farm and how to invest.
Councillor Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan), the cabinet member responsible for overseeing the scheme said: “The Swindon Solar Bond idea seems to have caught the imagination of local residents and already £100,000 has been raised by community investment.
“This is a stunning launch and letters will be going out to every house in Swindon in the town with the council tax statement explaining the scheme so we can have the widest number of people taking part.”
To ensure as many people as possible can take part, the minimum amount is to invest is £5. The council have partnered with Abundance to manage the investment.
“I am excited about this initiative because it will personally benefit local residents, the majority of profits will go to community projects and it will help the council protect local services in these cash-strapped times,” said Coun Heenan.
“I’m really proud that Swindon is at the forefront of this ground-breaking new finance model which we hope will become popular up and down the UK. I have plenty of ideas for further projects, and look forward to working with Abundance to make these plans a reality in Swindon.”
A Community Interest Company, wholly owned by Swindon Borough Council, will own and manage the solar farm. Revenues will be raised from selling the electricity generated, as well as support from the Feed In Tariff subsidy (FIT). The solar farm was pre-accredited for the FIT before government policy changes at the start of the year, so revenues are guaranteed by the government for 20 years, offering an annual return of around six per cent.
Bruce Davis, managing director of Abundance, said: “This first ever Council Solar Bond will really help to put Swindon on the map.
“It proves that ‘win win investment’ can provide people with a better return on their hard-earned money, while creating innovative new ways for developing and improving local community infrastructure without increasing costs to the taxpayer.
“This is great news for people struggling to live off their savings or wanting to invest for their future without stock market risks, as well as for Swindon Borough Council as it seeks to beat the government cuts and make a difference to the local community.”