Low Carbon Chilterns

A new community energy co-op


This is a new and exciting local initiative in which several local transition and low carbon communities are involved and trying to get off the ground.

Low Carbon Chilterns Co-op Ltd have now completed registration as a Community Energy Co-op, with support from Transition Town Groups in the Chilterns (1), and are ‘in business’ (2).  We are working to reduce the carbon footprint of the Chilterns, through helping communities save energy and generate renewable energy.

The Feed in Tariff. Our original plan was first to use the government’s Feed in Tariff (FiT) to install solar panels on community buildings, including schools, at no cost to their owners. They would get to use free electricity as it is being generated, and we would get the Feed-in-Tariff, to help fund energy saving schemes and renewable energy advice, and pay interest to people who invest in the Co-op.

However the recently announced (31st October) reduction in the Feed in Tariff by more than 50% has changed the picture. Now the solar PV economics do not add up until panel prices come down, and they also depend on the results of the Government consultation process. It is possible that a better deal will be offered for community-based schemes like ours; we and others are lobbying hard. So, potential solar PV schemes are not entirely out of our future plans, but we have to re-work our business model.

A broader plan. After this setback, we have reviewed our situation, and are resolved to continue with the Co-op; its purpose is deeper and broader than just solar PV. We are going through a consultation period until the New Year to re-shape our plans. This will place more emphasis on offering impartial energy saving advice, continuing with a strong emphasis on increasing community involvement, and considering use of the “Green Deal”, and the “Renewable Heat Incentive” as well as the FiT, and seeking some grant assistance too.

Investors. In a community clubs and schools context, we believe that enough members and parents might still find the investment terms to be acceptable – the subset who would take a wide-ranging and balanced view about their own financial benefit, benefit to the school, the co-op and the community.

We want to hear from you. We want to continue our dialogue with all of our contacts in schools, churches, local government and the community, to absorb views, needs and ideas, and feed those into our own plans. In short, we aim to evolve, in response to the community.  We need your interest and support in two ways:

1.       If you are a user of, or manage a suitable community building we would like to discuss your need for energy efficiency advice, renewable energy for heating and solar electricity.

2.       If you are a local resident or organisation, we would like you to consider buying shares in the Co-op; you would receive around a 4% return on the investment, and it may also qualify for EIS tax relief.  Minimum investment is £50, maximum £20,000.

If you are interested in this project and want to know more please contact Low Carbon Chilterns at e-mail: lowcarbonchilterns@yahoo.co.uk

(1) The groups from which Co-op founder members come are Transition Town Chesham, Amersham in Transition, Change 4 Chalfont, and Low Carbon Jordans.

(2) Low Carbon Chilterns Co-op Limited. Registered as IPS. No. 31454 R


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