Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) is an award winning community benefit society established by local residents to tackle the high levels of fuel poverty in Plymouth.
PEC’s work has already benefited more than 11,000 households to date, with over £200,000 fuel debt cleared and over £340,000 energy savings made.
PEC identified an opportunity in the community of Ernesettle to enable them to significantly scale up their activities to address fuel poverty by building a community owned solar farm on local derelict brownfield land. PEC raised short term construction funding which it planned to refinance by raising community shares to ensure community ownership. Meanwhile the removal of tax incentives created a more challenging environment in which to raise community shares within such a short time frame and PEC was left with a potential shortfall in funding.
The 4.1MW Ernesettle solar array was energised in March 2016, generating enough energy to meet the annual needs of 1000 homes. SASC has provided a £610,000 3-year loan to part-refinance PEC’s construction loan, funding alongside community investors to enable local ownership of the asset. The investment will be repaid from the proceeds of further community shares raised over the next 3 years.
SASC’s involvement facilitates long-term community ownership of an important local renewable energy asset. The Ernesettle solar array will generate £600,000 in rental payments to Four Greens Community Trust to support local regeneration activities in a deprived area of the city, and an expected surplus of more than £2m will be generated over its lifetime, ensuring the longevity of PEC and funding its work to tackle fuel poverty over the next 25 years.
PEC repaid their loan in February 2017.