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Minutes of the Renewable Energy Generation Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, Bideford, on Thursday 10 September 2015 at 6.00 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor P Christie

South Ward:

Councillor D Brenton
Councillor J Day
Councillor B Wootton

East Ward:

Councillor J McKenzie
Councillor S Robinson

Community Energy Group:

James Craigie

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mr R D G Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor D Howell
Mr P Rogers (361 Energy CIC)
1 x Public

001.   ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN

Councillor Day was proposed by Councillor Brenton and seconded by Councillor Christie.

RESOLVED: That Councillor Day is appointed as Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.

Vote: For: 6, Against: 0)

(Councillor Day assumed the Chair and thanked the Members for their vote.)

002.   ELECTION OF A DEPUTY CHAIRMAN

Councillor McKenzie was proposed by Councillor Brenton and seconded by Councillor Christie.

RESOLVED: That Councillor McKenzie is appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Committee for the coming year.

Vote: For: 6, Against: 0)

003.   APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

There were no apologies for absence.

004.   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

There were no declarations of interest.

005.   PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD

No members of the Public spoke.

006.   COMMUNITY RENEWABLE ENERGY GENERATION PRSENTATION INCLUDING IMPACT OF POLICY CHANGES ON FEED IN TARIFFS -

Councillor Robinson arrived.

Mr Rogers introduced himself as a director of 361 Energy an organisation that is working with schools and communities in northern Devon to reduce energy and carbon emissions. The organisation was set up by a group of like-minded sustainability and renewable energy consultants. They have been awarded a seed funding grant by Devon County Council and Regen SW to develop community owned renewable energy projects in North Devon.

He referred to Events and Projects that have been organised including an Energy Fair held in Barnstaple Pannier Market which will be repeated on 1 November 2015 where the attractions will include: Electric vehicles, LED lighting and Family activities amongst other items.

Help has also been given to those people in Ilfracombe experiencing energy poverty with advice on tariff switching, alternate equipment and practises.

He spoke in terms of training and funding including:

• Community Engagement:
o (Share) Owned Energy.
o Business Plans.
• The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) a £15 million programme, jointly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). It supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects which provide economic and social benefits to the community.
• Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is Defra’s principal delivery body for the provision of advice, technical and financial support on waste reduction and resource efficiency in England. It helps English businesses, industry, civil society organisations, local authorities and households become more efficient in the way they manage and use raw materials, water and energy. WRAP is an independent, not-for-profit company and is co-funded by Defra.

adding that Central Government Policy Changes would impact upon the attractiveness / viability of future engagement / take up. Mr Rogers championed Community owned energy. He explained that a solar PV system could be installed on a building with no cost to the building owner. They would benefit from being able to purchase electricity generated from the solar PV system at about half the normal cost of electricity.
The building owner will be guaranteed cheap electricity for a period of twenty years and after that period, the solar PV system will be sold to them at a nominal price. The solar panels may generate electricity for a further ten years, providing the owner with free electricity. The Solar PV installations will be funded by a community share issue. Those buying shares in the project will receive an average interest rate in excess of 5% per annum which will be paid for twenty years.  During this period there will be interest payments and capital repayment. Shares will be offered first to those in the immediate vicinity of the project and subsequently across Devon. The aim is to keep the financial benefit from the project within the local community rather than money being exported out of the local economy to foreign owned electricity utilities. As well as providing local shareholders with an attractive rate of interest, profits from the income of the solar PV system will support a community benefit fund. Community benefit fund monies could be spent on energy saving alternate devices / equipment to enhance community buildings and on projects assisting those in fuel poverty.

He highlighted such advantages as low carbon, shelter from volatile pricing and factors that influence oil prices such as tension in the Middle East. He reiterated that solar installation would maintain jobs in the local area.

Challenges (for any development) would include:

• (financially) viable projects
• feasibility study (results)
• funding
• legal agreements
o roof lease
o power purchase
o shareholder payment (arrangements)
• Installation
o Maintenance.

The RCEF fund provides up to approximately £150,000 of funding for feasibility and pre-planning development work to help projects become investment ready. RCEF provides support in two stages:

• Stage one provides a grant of up to approximately £20,000 to pay for an initial investigation into the feasibility of a renewable energy project.

• Stage two provides an unsecured loan of up to approximately £130,000 to support planning applications and develop a robust business case to attract further investment.

Mr Rogers indicated that to borrow £100,000 would cost £145,000 only i.e. a straight forty five per cent charge not a cumulative fee or subject to an annual percentage rate.

(Parish / Town Councils are amongst other bodies that are eligible for funding.)

He advised that Stage 1 of the RCE Feasibility Study considerations would include:

• Community Engagement to assess support
• Community Benefits – type and scale
• Technology – type, size, suitability, grid connection etc
• Financial Projections – funding, income, running costs
• Planning & Permitting
• Details of the Site
• Operation & Governance – delivery & ongoing management.

The Technologies:

• Hydropower, Solar PV, Solar thermal
• Wind turbines, ground and air source heat pumps
• Gas combined heat and power (CHP) units
• Anaerobic digestion, biomass, bio liquids, biogas & bio-CHP
• Low carbon / renewable heat networks (district heating)

He made it clear that the Scale (of projects acceptable to the RCEF), in general terms, would require planning permission, generate power for multiple buildings (or portfolio), demand a significant outlay to build and must be of a sufficient scale to enable repayment of the pre-planning loan.

Financial benefit for projects generally:

• Fuel savings (electricity or gas/oil/LPG)
• Feed-in tariff (FiT) payments (over 20 years)
• Payment for each kWh of electricity generated
o (Tariff depends on technology)
• Export tariff payments for each kWh exported
• Renewable Heat Incentive Payment for each kWh of heat consumed (heat meter).
o (Tariff depends on technology)
• Domestic RHI (7 year)– houses
• Non Domestic RHI (20 year) – business or heat networks

In demonstrating the challenges, complications and scale of the work needed to enjoy the (community) benefits those purely financial rewards could be stymied given that they would be subject to the FIT review:

• Up to 87% cut in FIT rate
• effective from 1 Jan 16
• Fixed Budget of £75-100m
• Question of solar viability in the short term with potentially 20,000 job losses in the industry.

The Renewable Heat Incentive, funded by DECC, was also vulnerable to cuts.

Although a business case for >10kW PV may still add up projects would be dependent upon the RCEF.

Suitable Projects

• Solar PV Rooftop (need interest from site owners) 250kW single roof
o Larger project with battery storage
o Portfolio of 1500kW of roofs

• Ground mounted (large scale solar – 250kW+) Low grade land – Class 3b, 4, 5
• Housing & transport developments have priority

• Heat Networks or District Heating with multiple buildings Popular with DECC & DEFRA Close to 2020 target on electricity but not heat
• Ground, Air and Water Source Heat Pumps
• Biomass

• Factors affecting the viability Heat load
o Soft Dig (£100/m) or Hard Dig (£1000/m)
o Potential for long term contract

Mr Rodgers closed his presentation with a summary:

• Challenging times for renewable and community energy
• Prices for renewable technologies are going down; Government support is also being cut
• Rural Community Energy Fund is still open to applications
• Up to £20,000 is available for Feasibility Studies
• A range of different technologies could be funded
• 361 Energy CIC would be happy to guide you through the application and help you with the study.

The Chairman invited Members to submit questions. Questions and comments raised included:

• Car charging points
o (Attractiveness of)Solar Canopy car ports
• Pannier Market
o Slate roof presents problems
o On its own not large enough for Fund application
o Estimate of cost including plans / diagrams / planning (LBC) application and installation: £50,000.
• Community Portfolio could include:
o Pannier Market
o Allotment Site
o Burton Art Gallery
o Pollyfield Centre
o New supermarket developments
o Westward Ho! Tennis Club, Caddsdown
 Large roof
 Potential battery storage scheme
• Finance:
o Share issue
o Building owners receive “half price” electricity
Councillor Christie left the Meeting.

Once sites had been identified Site owners would need to be engaged, application staffed and submitted by the Council.

Mr Craigie left the Meeting.

Mr Rogers cited Plymouth Energy Community’s initiative, supported by the Plymouth City Council that has seen share issues raising £550,000 and £850,000 for installation on Plymouth’s schools and community buildings, including the iconic Plymouth Life Centre.

Councillor Howell felt that a Community Portfolio including the Pannier Market, Pollyfield Centre, Burton Art Gallery and supermarkets / new developments merited consideration.

The Chairman thanked Mr Rogers for addressing the Meeting.

007.   SOLAR PANEL INSTALLATION: PANNIER MARKET ROOF / POTENTIAL ALTERNATE SITES

Members felt that the item had largely been considered, conceding that time was against an installation on the Pannier Market before the Feed In Tariff rate cut.

It was proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That a Renewable Energy Community Portfolio be compiled, following approaches to the Pollyfield Centre, Burton Art Gallery and new developments in the area, to support Rural Community Energy Fund application. That DALC / NALC are contacted on their member experiences.

(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0)

The Chairman, having established that there was no further business to discuss, thanked the Members for their attendance and concluded the Meeting at 7.30 pm.

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