A BRAND new share offer by the Reading Community Energy Society (RCES) is giving residents another chance make a return on their investments, while at the same time supporting local community projects.
The week after Reading Borough Council became the latest local authority to declare a Climate Change Emergency, the new RCES share offer has been launched to help raise £363,000 for the installation of new solar panels on ten buildings in the Greater Reading area.
The previous share offer – launched in May 2016 – was fully subscribed in just a fortnight. People can take advantage of the latest offer at https://readingenergy.coop/share-offer-2019/. The new offer runs until 29th March 2019.
Created by local volunteers – working alongside Reading Borough Council and Energy4 All – RCES is Reading’s first ever community energy scheme. It works by offering shareholders a return on investments, while at the same time reducing climate change-causing emissions, and helping communities to benefit from the local generation of clean energy. Shareholder investments in turn pay for solar panel installations.
Since its launch just under three years ago, the scheme has already installed hundreds of solar panels on community buildings across Reading, including places of worship, council buildings and charity buildings. It already runs 12 solar energy systems which have been generating clean, green energy for the past two years. In that period it has saved 145 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which has enabled the Society to make its first community fund grants.
The latest project means new solar panels will now be installed on a number of buildings including University of Reading facilities, a school and a council building. The project is already off to a flying start having already initiated the programme by installing panels on Woodford Park Leisure Centre, in collaboration with Woodley Town Council, and a recycling facility owned and operated by Select Environmental Services.
Since opening in late February, the new share offer has already raised over £100,000.
Councillor Rachel Eden, who is a Director of RCES, said:
“Last week I seconded a motion to Full Council which declared a Climate Change Emergency in Reading. I am proud that Reading is now one of a growing list of local authorities which has rightly recognised more urgent action is needed at local, national and international level to protect our planet for our children. To that end, the Council has committed to playing a key role in achieving a carbon neutral Reading by 2030.
“The Reading Community Energy Society not only offers the possibility of a healthy financial return for investors, but through the installation of many hundreds of solar panels in Reading and beyond, saves tonnes of CO2 emissions which in the longer term will help the town achieve its aim of creating a carbon neutral Reading just over a decade from now.”
Fellow Director, Councillor Liz Terry, said:
“Becoming a shareholder of Reading Community Energy Society will help Reading to rise to the challenge of dealing with the climate emergency which exists. By investing directly in local clean, renewable energy generation, we can play our part in forging a path for the future and start to unlock the potential for Reading to become carbon neutral by 2030.
“I am proud to be a Director of Reading Community Energy Society which not only achieves this, but also contributes to local community projects. I look forward to another successful scheme in Reading.”
Tony Hoskins, Chair of RCES, said:
“Encouraged by the success of our first group of solar projects, the Directors have worked extremely hard to bring together this new opportunity. As a community benefit society, we aim to build low carbon renewable energy generation to help tackle climate change, to raise funds for community projects and to give local people a chance to get involved and make a real contribution to work of the organisation.
“By launching this second share offer and building more roof-top solar energy systems, we are opening the opportunity to even more people in an around Reading to get involved and join our existing membership. We hope local residents will take the time to visit our website, read the Share Offer document and consider joining us and investing in the new projects.”
The scheme takes advantage of 20-year fixed tariffs. The price is less than existing tariffs and offers good value in the future as energy prices are expected to continue to rise. Shareholders receive annual returns targeted 4.5% – 5% (the Share Offer must be read for full details and risks). All remaining profits are then fed into a community benefit fund to help raise funds for local charitable activities with local sustainability and energy efficiency projects. The Community Benefit fund is expected to raise £132k over the 20 years period of the project.
For its part, Reading Borough Council has saved over £7 million in energy costs in the last ten years by cutting its carbon footprint. The Council has also met a target to reduce its own carbon footprint by 50% a full three years early.