Swansea Project Goes Down to the Wire
SCEES or Swansea Community Energy + Enterprise Scheme is an independent community benefit society run by a local group of enthusiasts. In the summer of 2016 they embarked on an ambitious project to install 1400 solar panels on 9 schools and 1 care home in disadvantaged areas of Swansea.
This 360-kilowatt hour installation provides clean and cheap electricity to the host buildings; investors in the scheme will receive a 6% annual rate of interest, generated through the Feed-In-Tariff income. This scheme is estimated to create a community benefit of well over 500k, which will be used to support skills and enterprise development, with a priority allocation of these funds going to individuals and group located within 1 mile of host buildings.
Robert Owen took an interest in this scheme around 2 years ago in its early planning stages, but were not expecting to fund the entire construction. Due to some minor set backs, the project found itself on a very tight timeline to complete the installation and meet the Feed-In-Tariff deadline. Robert Owen stepped in and provided SCEES with a £400,000 loan to fund the short-term construction of the infrastructure, allowing them to honour installation contracts and ensure the Feed-in-Tariff deadline was met. With only 7 weeks to complete the project, 5 weeks shorter than originally envisaged, an all-round team effort was required to get the job done.
Neil Lewis, the community energy fund manager at Robert Owen said,
‘It was very close to withering on the vine. I had to drive through heavy traffic late on a Friday night to sign the documents with my 19 year old son as witness!’
The heroic installers cancelled holidays and worked around the clock in all weathers to complete the project. Capital Law worked tirelessly to guide the legal issues, while the commitment shown by Trevor the Electrician and Regensys the installer were outstanding.
Ant Flanagan, the Director of SCEES said,
‘Robert Owen Community Bank were instrumental in the success of the project. If we hadn’t secured the loan, the project would have missed the feed in tariff deadline, which would have meant the community benefit would have been much smaller.’
The speed and efficiency of Robert Owen enabled SCEES to complete the installation in an impossibly short time frame, an achievement that would not have been possible otherwise. This story is a wonderful example of the power of community energy and the inspiring characters that commit their lives to it, showing anything can be achieved with teamwork and commitment.
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