renewable energy (1)

Eight years ago some residents in the Muswell Hill area set up a social enterprise called en10ergy to actively promote renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions by installing pv panels, in large arrays, on public and commercial buildings. (A social enterprise is like a company, but its activities are for the benefit of the community as a whole, not for the owners of the business.) The first installations were made on Marks & Spencer’s, Muswell Hill, and on the Muswell Hill Methodist Church. These were paid for mainly from central and local government grant money, which was available in those days, but also from a small amount of capital provided individually by supporters through the sale of Community Shares. The panels are owned by en10ergy, which sells the electricity they generate to the owner of the building at less than the open market rate, and uses the surplus to fund other carbon-reduction actions, particularly helping people insulate their homes.

The sucess of these schemes has encouraged en10ergy to look at the more ambitious aim of raising money, through further Community Share offers, to install pv panels on other sites around Haringey, especially schools. Planning was done towards this; then more government funding became available to local councils, and Haringey decided to do the work on local schools themselves. Alexandra Park School was amongst those which received pv arrays at that time. Only some of the planned installations had been made before changes of government policy made the circumstances for councils much less favourable, and work stopped. en10ergy is now stepping into the gap again and is initiating a scheme with Woodside High School, White Hart Lane, which can be financially viable with support from en10ergy’s existing resources, allowing a reasonable rate of return to be given (about 4%) on shares bought by members of the public for the project. Just as en10ergy is not exactly like a commercial company, the shares are not exactly like stock-market shares. They cannot be sold by their holders, except back to en10ergy. They are valid for twelve years, during which shareholders receive about 4% of the original value of their investment in interest, and one twelfth of the capital they invested. This is the way Community Shares usually work.

This kind of project can have two valuable outcomes. It can provide sources of clean, renewable energy and reduce the energy expenses of community resources like schools. More generally, it can also offer an alternative economic model for supplying the energy needs of an energy-intensive society, perhaps even loosening the grip of energy corporations. The model is being used very extensively in Germany, and parts of Britain also have thriving community energy sectors (notably the South-West of England). London has, in proportion, been lagging behind, but there are a number of community energy enterprises here. Two of the most active are South East London Community Energy and Repowering London, which not only install pv on schools and council housing, but run technical training programmes for work in the renewable energy industry, provide support and advice for residents in fuel poverty, and promote concern with energy and climate change in other ways too.

If you would like to help develop this movement, please consider investing in the solar energy scheme for Woodside, which will also benefit its neighbour, Riverside School, providing for special educational needs students. en10ergy is looking principally for people to invest £500 or more. This minimum means that management of the shares is within the scope of a small organisation.

Come to the en10ergy share launch event for a preview of the scheme and the share offer on Saturday 13 May at 3.00 pm in Tetherdown Hall, Muswell Hill, near the junction of Fortis Green Road and Tetherdown, opposite the United Reformed Church.

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