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Kent’s community solar

Locals to fund Kent’s biggest community-owned energy project
solar panels Picture from MyGreenPod Sustainable News

Update 17/11: Orchard Community Energy’s share offer has been extended. The removal of the EIS tax relief for future projects is the result of measures in the Finance Bill that are currently going through parliament; until this bill achieves royal assent you can still apply for shares.

Just two days remain for locals to invest in one of Kent’s first community-owned solar projects, which will provide renewable energy to nearly 1,250 homes.

Power to the people – is this the end for community energy, or the beginning of a transformed industry?

People power

Through Orchard Community Energy’s public share offer, which closes at 17.00 on 06 November, £1 million of community investment will be raised to fund a 5MW solar array in the Parishes of Iwade and Bobbing.

The project will have capacity to power nearly 1,250 homes and save 2,300 tonnes of CO2 per year.

‘With planning consent granted for a solar farm in 2014, we are now very excited to see this happen as a community-owned project. It is a great opportunity for local people to invest in tried and tested solar technology and be able to benefit personally from their investment.’

Penny Shepherd MBE, Chair of Orchard Community Energy

Investment and returns

Withdrawable shares in Orchard Community Energy are valued at £10 each and most investors can invest between £500 and £100,000.

To encourage and support very local ownership, the minimum investment for those with an address in the parishes of Iwade or Bobbing is reduced to £250.

The projected return is 7% pa, payable for up to 20 years.

A community benefit fund of up to £3 million could be raised over 25 years, meaning profits from the solar project will be ploughed back into the local community.

Community benefits

Orchard Community Energy, which works in partnership with Mongoose Energy, was set up as a Community Benefit Society (BenCom) in 2015.

As a BenCom registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), it has to conduct its business for the benefit of the community.

‘It is our aim to move Community Energy from an interesting niche into an important mainstream player in the generation and distribution of energy. I believe that Mongoose Energy, working with the strong local team of Orchard Community Energy directors, can take an important step towards this aim with Orchard Solar Farm project.’

Peter Andrews, Mongoose Energy

Click here to find out more about Orchard Community Energy and how to buy shares in the Orchard Farm Solar Array. More about Mongoose Energy Can be found here.

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