With the handover of the school from the contractors to the Council now imminent, we are hopefully days away from being able to turn the array on. This news comes as we hear that the Leominster Community Solar array on Bridge Street tennis hall has so far saved 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide, over it’s (short) lifetime so far. Leominster is blazing a trail for solar co-ops in the UK, setting a number of ‘firsts’, of which we are very proud. The sooner we can get the share offer complete, the sooner we can set to work on all the other ideas for solar co-ops in the town that are swirling around. Please do pass the word on that we only have £34,500 worth of shares remaining, as word of mouth is always the best way to find new members.
At long last the Co-op has now signed the lease with the Council, after what has been a very long drawn out process. It’s a great relief to have another important milestone achieved.
Just over 2 weeks to go for the share offer and we still have two thirds of the money left to raise. It was always going to be a challenge to raise the capital within 6 weeks, but we’ve been encouraged by the flurry of applications in recent days and we know of applications that are due in, so we hope we’re going to be deluged with applications over the next fortnight. If you have been meaning to send in an application, please don’t put it off any longer!
Our application to keep the Feed in Tariff (FIT) rate of 10.71p/kWh was submitted on Friday and we’ve had acknowledgements that our application is being processed. This gives us a 6 month window to connect the system to the grid and apply for the FIT, which should be ample given that the inverters are now installed and the build programme for the school is on schedule. This rate of 10.71p/kWh will be the rate we receive for the next 20 years for every unit of electricity generated, rising with inflation on an annual basis.
One more bureaucratic hurdle out of the way!
Leominster Sunrise was featured in a really good article in Saturday’s Guardian – Leominster is becoming known as a pioneering place when it comes to renewable energy co-ops. There are a few around these days but how many small market towns have two?
Thanks to all those who made it last night for the launch of the share offer. Felicity Norman chaired the event and spoke about the history of the project, including the first Leominster Community Solar project. Ann Ashley, another one of the directors also spoke about her commitment to renewable energy and reasons she has helped to develop the project. Ben Whittle, the third director, then gave a technical overview of the project and the installation process so far.
We were very grateful that the Junior school bursar, Sandra Beaumont Pike, who will be bursar at the new school, was able to make it and spoke on behalf of the school. Sandra said “It’s great when you go up on the first floor of the school, you get a great view down over the rows and rows of panels. It really is a massive array. As bursar of the new school I’m obviously delighted about the contribution this will make to reducing school costs but also as a teaching resource, to build on the work we’re doing with energy monitoring with pupils through our Eco Schools commitment. The educational opportunities are really exciting”.
Cabinet Member Philip Price also spoke warmly about the project and his keenness to see it succeed. He had heard Jonathan Porritt speak at the Hay Festival about solar and what an important part of our energy future it is, with ever increasing energy prices.
Please download the share offer document and tell anyone you think might be interested about it! If you know of somewhere locally to you where a poster and some share offer documents might be spotted by like minded people, please get in touch.
Have a listen to the radio coverage of our co-op on BBC Hereford and Worcester here – it’s a great introduction to the project http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/p01zdsfc . You’ll need to scroll to 2:51:40 using the scrollbar at the top of the page to hear the piece
We’re very pleased to see good coverage of the share offer launch in both of these local newspapers this week.
BBC Hereford and Worcester have been in touch, to arrange an interview on the day of the launch at the school, which will hopefully help to get the word out.
Tony Johnson, Leader of Herefordshire Council has also kindly agreed to attend the launch event and say a few words.
We’ll be launching the new share offer for the 90kW array on Monday 2nd June at 6pm at Leominster Junior School, which is next door to the new school, where the panels are located. Letters are going out later this week to parents, staff and governors to invite them. All are welcome, so if you want to pick up your copy of the share offer document and find out more about the project, please come along.