Minutes of the Renewable Energy Generation Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, Bideford, on Wednesday 14 December 2016 at 4.34 pm
Councillor D Brenton
Councillor J Day (Chairman)
Councillor B Wootton
Councillor P Christie
Councillor J McKenzie
Mr R D G Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Ms T Bowers (Projects & Marketing, 361 Energy CIC)
11. SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS
Proposed by Councillor Day, seconded and
RESOLVED: That Standing Orders are suspended in order to allow Ms T Bowers to address the Meeting.
(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)
The Chairman invited Ms Tara Bowers BSc to introduce herself: she gave details on her eleven years’ employment in the banking sector, fifteen years running her own organic food import and export business, nine year sojourn in France, work in the renewable sector (Hampshire project with EDF) prior to joining 361 Energy CIC. Her role with 361 Energy CIC involves projects generally, fuel poverty, feasibility (studies) and consumer engagement.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Councillors S Robinson (East Ward – personal).
12. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA
There were no declarations of interest.
13. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD
There was no participation from the public.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 7 July 2016 were approved and signed as a correct record.
(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0)
15. UPDATE ON THE RURAL COMMUNITY ENERGY FUND (RCEF) PROJECT
The Chairman confirmed that the funding had been received from RCEF and provided the first monthly feasibility report (that had been accepted), required to satisfy part of the criteria behind the payment; he noted also that the money had to be spent by 31 March 2017.
A list of site owners had been compiled of which twelve were actively being pursued with three or four potential others. One specific opportunity could see an array with the potential of 50 kW. Local schools and leisure facilities will be viewed.
He stated the importance (to the RCEF) of the business / community / user of the premises, where the cells would be sited, to actually draw benefit from the array.
He alluded to discussion on working with a utility company and two of their facilities.
The Chairman also explained the working relationship with Sun Gift, who provide free quotations on potential sites and have completed a number of installations in Plymouth and Exeter.
Ms Bowers intimated that once the basic parameters for the model is in place and the installation work proceeds the feasibility team will return to those who had not engaged further with the project.
The Chairman reiterated the desire to have one major building / business to drive the initiative forward.
(Councillor Wootton joined the Meeting.)
The Chairman saw a “push” in January 2017 to satisfy the Waste & Resources Action Programme and compile a panel of installers on a value for money basis. He again advised that Sun Gift provided financial modelling expertise.
Councillor Brenton asked if private individuals could benefit. The Chairman felt this unlikely in the short term given the need for an array between 10 – 50 kW. Ms Bowers confirmed that the site should be as large as possible with similarly large on site usage.
The Chairman spoke about the anticipated increase on Business Rates that penalised those with pv installations. He added though that a benefit saw those that in effect “rented a roof” to the Community Project whilst enjoying energy at a reduced rate would not be penalised through the new Rate change.
Councillor Christie explained his horror given that Appledore School had invested so much and wondered if there was the potential for them to sell on their array.
Ms Bowers confirmed that once funds had been raised there was real potential to purchase those previously installed cells for the Community Group albeit that consideration would have to be given to their “life” expectancy (into the twenty to twenty five years).
Discussion followed on the potential Brown Field Sites for the siting of solar farms; the Chairman confirmed that there would have to be local landowners found who were sympathetic to the initiative.
The Chairman spoke of raising the profile with launch events in Spring 2017. The main stakeholders were in the Community and he spoke of the importance to find the appropriate venue for families where information would be given on the Benefits to Businesses, the Community and detail on the Community Share Issue.
The Chamber of Commerce would be approached to help disseminate and obtain feedback on the business case.
Social Media would be engaged; it is vital to have the right name / acronym to maximise the branding. Members considered ideas and agreed that the name should work on the local and potential wider community. A website / domain name would need to be registered.
The Chairman advised that the governing structure would need to be addressed. The entity would address the Community Benefits: society owned / managed but would also manage the share issue / profit sharing.
In order to reduce costs and keep the money in the Community a working in partnership approach could be made to an already existing community energy group e.g. Wadebridge. This would save on establishing an administrative and legal frame work; solicitors / accountants would not need to be engaged and there would be further reduction in administrative costs. Councillor Brenton saw the benefit in drawing on established expertise. Ms Bowers indicated that there would be less risk, it would be quicker and easier and see the potential halving of the costs to run a share offer.
Ms Bowers intimated that the aim would be to see share returns of four to five per cent. She added that timing had seen a Hampshire group still enjoying thirteen per cent returns!
The Chairman spoke about the Community for Renewables group who design financial models showing projections for profits and returns who had worked with both Wadebridge and Tamar energy. (He will invite them to present at the next meeting.)
The Chairman invited the Committee Members to inform and encourage support for the Council / 361 Energy CIC Community initiative. He highlighted the potential of a specific public building that would be ideal given its seven days’ opening and popularity during the summer.
Whilst it was hoped that most finance would be raised through the local area approaches to ethical banks and wealthy philanthropists would also be considered. He hoped that share prices could begin at fifty pounds, with a one share one vote policy.
Councillor McKenzie agreed to run the social media campaign work.
Ms Bowers indicated a spring launch and Summer 2017 install with the feasibility study completed in March (2017).
In discussing the potential for other renewables, once the costings were in place a small pv system with infra-red heating and led lights could be established, as a case study, for education value (although it would expect only to break even).
RETURN TO STANDING ORDERS
Proposed by Councillor J Day, seconded and
RESOLVED: That the Meeting return to Standing Orders.
(Vote – For: 4, 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 5.37 pm.