Staffordshire schools are set to benefit from the UK’s largest community energy share offer for the education sector.
The project, which aims to install solar panels on 25 schools across the county and supply them with free electricity, will be funded by a community share issue giving locals the chance to benefit from the project.
Staffordshire Sunny Schools is the latest offer from community benefit society Gen Community, which works to promote mutual ownership of local energy generation.
The offer was launched by local Conservative MP Christopher Pincher, who sits on the Energy and Climate Change select committee, at Millfield Primary School, Fazeley.
Millfield is one of three schools to have the panels fitted, which will be refinanced by the offer. The remaining 22 schools will receive the installation as the offer raises the money.
The project will immediately benefit 15,000 school children, through total electricity savings equating to over £90,000 per annum for the schools. The electricity generated is supplied free to the schools while the solar panels are in operation. In environmental terms, the equivalent of 7,329 tonnes of CO2 will be saved over 20 years.
Gen Community is aiming to raise £880,000 through this solar share offer, which will generate a surplus fund to be distributed for community projects, by way of a community fund. Southern Staffordshire Community Energy – a local community benefit society – will manage the fund.
Staffordshire county councillor, Ben Adams, cabinet member for learning and skills, says: “We’ve been working hard over the last few years to help reduce energy costs across all council services, including schools.
“This project will see the schools benefit from free, environmentally-friendly electricity, allowing them to invest their funds in other areas that will help enhance the education for pupils.”
Jeremy Lefroy, Conservative MP for Stafford adds: “I am very pleased to be able to welcome this project to Stafford. Students will benefit, as their schools should be able to invest in other areas rather than on their electricity bills. Local residents will benefit, not just as council tax payers, but with the opportunity to invest, and we all benefit with the advantages the project has for the environment.”
Investing members will benefit from projected returns of approximately 6% per annum and tax incentives, as the project has Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) status. Investing returns are quoted as an ‘internal rate of return’ of 10.48% with EIS relief included, per annum. The project is set to run for 20 years, with a projected 100% share capital buyback. The subscription list for the share offer will be open until 24 February.
To find out more, visit: www.gen-community.co.uk/share_offer
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