Brendon Energy is celebrating the success of its first installation on behalf of the community. 100% owned by local people Brendon Energy is aiming to increase the amount of renewable energy generated in the Western Somerset.
Launched in July 2011 as an Industrial and Provident Society for the benefit of the community, Brendon Energy raised over 70,000 in its first share and loans offer. Its roots are in the 10Parishes (around Wiveliscombe) Transition Initiative and it has links with Forum 21.
After a lengthy survey of possibilities, funded by Western Somerset LARC and carried out by Aardvark, a local environmental consultancy, Brendon Energy decided that Solar photovoltaic panels offered the best and least controversial investment for the community.
Village hall and school roofs over a wide area were scanned for suitability and committees were asked whether they would sign up to a 25 year lease. Suddenly the government announced that 12/12/11 was the deadline for the Feed-in-Tariff payments on which Brendon Energy’s calculations had been made.
‘We had just six weeks to get our panels installed and registered instead of the five months we were planning on’, said Gareth Hoskins, CEO. Everyone changed gear and we pulled out all the stops. When the government made their ridiculous announcement (since overturned in the courts) we had not even cashed the share offer cheques. However, we got the agreement of the Children’s Society (who run the Children’s Centre), Somerset County Council (who own the building) and found a supplier who was able to meet the deadline. Eco-Exmoor gave us the right price and went into over-drive to prepare the roof and fit the panels.’
123 solar PV panels were fitted to the roof of Wiveliscombe’s Children’s Centre in record time, commissioned, accepted by Ofgem and the electricity signed up with Good Energy.
‘We ended beating the deadline by the skin of our teeth and had the panels up on the roof and under the wire of the government deadlineand a big thanks to everyone involved’, said Gareth. ‘The community now has a 29kW solar power station – the first of many projects owned by the community – find us on www.brendonenergy.org.’