Avalon Community Energy raise over £100,000 through Share Offer
Avalon Community Energy Ltd (ACE), the locally-owned renewable energy company, has raised over £100,000 through its latest community share offer. This means that ACE will now be able to proceed with their first installation of rooftop solar at Brookside Academy in Street.
ACE launched their latest Share Offer on November 10th in response to the sudden and unexpected announcement that the government would be withdrawing tax relief for community energy projects at the end of November 2015 , giving social investors the last chance to invest while being able to claim up to 50% tax relief through the HMRC’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS).
ACE have nine rooftop solar projects in development, eight of which are at the Evercreech Junction Industrial Estate near Shepton Mallet. The other project, which will be the first to be installed, is Brookside Academy in Street, and Brian Walton, Headteacher, expressed his delight that the project was now ready to get underway:
“I’m thrilled to hear that Avalon Community Energy have raised their first £100,000 of social investment. I’m even more pleased to hear that they will be using much of that investment on installing the planned solar panels on the roof of our school! This is a great day for Brookside School and for the people of Street and Mid-Somerset in general.”
It is estimated the solar project will provide the school with 50% savings on its electricity bills whilst also generating funds to support disadvantaged local people. Brian continues:
“Here at Brookside School we teach children about global issues and how they can have a positive impact. Pupils learn about the challenges our world faces and to think critically about to deal with issues such as poverty, inequality and sustainability. Our solar project with Avalon Community Energy, will bring to life issues relating to energy generation and climate change and enable the school to demonstrate a positive impact on real problems affecting us all.”
This share offer is the second that Avalon Community Energy have undertaken in 2015. The first ‘Pioneer Offer’ raised £40,000 to cover the preliminary legal and project management work. With the Share Offer open until November 27th, it is hoped that more money can be raised and more projects launched.
ACE Director, Maddy Milnes, said:
“It’s been a difficult time for community energy in recent months, with first the sudden and drastic withdrawal of Feed-In Tariffs and now, unexpectedly, the announcement by the Treasury, that they will be withdrawing all tax incentives for investors in community energy as of the end of this month. Nonetheless, ACE are confident that we can make the scheduled projects happen and get the community energy revolution started in Mid-Somerset!”
The Government’s change in policy over support for renewables has been roundly criticized by industry experts and community groups across the South West, an area that has thrived on the growth of solar, wind and hydro schemes. Some of Somerset’s Conservative MPs have now begun to get behind the outcry, with first Somerton and Frome’s David Warburton speaking up against the cuts, recently followed by James Heappey, MP for Wells Constituency who sits on the Energy and Climate Committee. James has come out in support of energy groups like ACE, stating “We must keep investing in renewables.”