It is business as usual for community benefit societies in the renewable energy sector, despite news that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has blocked applications from energy co-ops.
Co-operative advisors say the FCA’s ruling, based on the premise that renewable energy co-operative members would not participate enough, applies only to co-operative societies, not community benefit societies.
It does not affect bencoms like Ynni Anafon, the first large scale community hydro in North Wales, which launched its share offer on 13 September at Aber Dabba Doo, a community festival featuring everything from a music marathon to archery and a duck race.
Dave Hollings of Co-operative and Mutual Solutions says bencoms need not panic.“The FCA is concerned about energy generating co-operative societies where the only relationship between the members and the co-operative is an investment relationship,” he said.
“They continue to accept that a renewable energy community benefit society exists for the purpose of benefitting a defined community, which is perfectly compatible with the law as it stands.”
The FCA has registered a CMS client with plans to generate renewable energy as a community benefit society since it began blocking applications from co-ops, Mr Hollings said, and the model used by Harlaw Hydro in Edinburgh, which began construction this month, is still registerable.