Gen Community install first mutually owned solar PV panels on household in fuel poverty

Gen Community’s first solar PV installations on households in fuel poverty took place in Newport, South Wales on 31 January 2013.

Gen Community’s first solar PV installations on households in fuel poverty took place in Newport, South Wales on 31 January 2013.

Generation Community (Gen Community), was founded to develop low carbon energy projects, and is inviting people to become members the Society by investing between £500 and £20,000 into the share offer.

Gen Community’s launched the solar share offer last year. The initiative will help to alleviate fuel poverty in 240 homes of the highest areas of fuel poverty in the UK – Newport, Wales.

Cathy, retired and from Scarborough, investing in the Newport Solar Share Offer said:

“I’m in Greenpeace and have never bought a share in my life before. My roof is not south facing, but I want to contribute. Given the low returns on offer at the banks, I am happy to make an investment.”

Sandra, working and from London, also investing in the Newport Solar Share Offer said she chose to invest in Gen Community because it would benefit the local community in South Wales, whilst providing her with a fair return.

“I am renting an ex council flat, and cannot install solar PV. The Gen Community offer is an energy related impact investment I am looking for. I am happy that someone else is directly benefitting, whilst I am getting a fair return,” she said.

Gen Community have raised £205,000 from 75 investors to date and have a pledge offer to cover any shortfall between the current amount, and the minimum threshold of £390,000, on the extended offer close date of the 25 February 2013.

In addition to this, Gen Community are at the committee stage to receive debt investment, from social impact intermediaries, into the Newport Solar Share Offer. The debt investment will result, if approved, in additional qualifying fuel poor houses to receive the solar PV installation, and an increased community benefit fund.

The Newport Solar Share offer is still open to the UK public to become members of the Gen Community (‘The Society’) by investing between £500 and £20,000 into the Share Offer. Qualifying high net worth individuals or sophisticated investors can invest more than £20,000 and up to a maximum £250,000. Advance assurance for EIS relief from HMRC has been approved.

A fully subscribed offer (£1 million raised) is projected to reduce annual fuel bills by around £38,000 per annum in the Newport area, delivering 631 MWh of electricity and leading to a reduction of approximately 271 tones of carbon dioxide per annum.

For investing members of Gen Community the projected returns are 7 per cent per annum, with a 75 per cent share buy back over the lifetime of the project, which with Enterprise Investment Relief (advance assurance has been granted) results in a projected 10.22 per cent internal rate of return.

For benefit members of Gen Community, those qualifying households in fuel poverty, ‘free electricity’ is received when the panels are in use. The panels are gifted to the occupiers at the outset of the project, taking effect at the end of the 20-­‐year period. With an inverter replacement priced in, each householder should have at least 10 years of usable life left in the equipment, post the twenty-­‐year period. This in effect, mitigates energy prices rises for the next 30 years for an estimated 25 per cent of each household electricity bill.

Gen Community has been established to promote mutual ownership through the deployment of low carbon technologies. Arising from the failure of the financial markets, and dominance of the 'big six' energy companies, Gen Community helps to alleviate fuel poverty and combat social issues.

The continued increases in energy prices, compounded by the Government’s cuts to welfare spending, will lead to more and more households experiencing the misery of living in fuel poverty. This is a turbulent time for organisations working to assist these people. There are an estimated 7 million households in the UK suffering from the wretched consequences of living in cold, damp homes.

Gen Community is a pioneering mutually owned community benefit society, help tackling these growing social and economic failures. Gen Community offers the wider low carbon community an opportunity impact investment, giving a fair financial return, in addition to a social investment.

The legal form adopted by Gen Community is a Community Benefit Society (CBS) – an Industrial & Provident Society (IPS), run for the benefit of the community to provide services to people other than its members.

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