BEC celebrates reaching community funding milestone

The Bristol Energy Co-operative (BEC) has raised the £2 million needed to fund the purchase of a solar farm in Somerset as well as develop new projects in and around the city.

The bond offer was launched at the start of March and will be used to pay for the 4.6MW Puriton solar farm, the construction of a new solar park near Lawrence Weston, Bristol and to install solar panels on 19 community buildings across Bristol.

Andy O’Brien, co-director of BEC, said: “We are delighted to have reached the £2 million landmark in such a short time frame, and would like to thank all our investors and supporters for backing our campaign so wholeheartedly.

“It is an incredible achievement, and testament to the fact that people want to power our communities differently. Rather than being in the hands of the “big six”, community energy puts energy into local control as well as offering a return on investment.

This £2 million milestone has been raised through bond and share offers, which will now be extended until 3 May 2016 to give time for more investors to get involved.

Investor Tyrone Probert said: “The Bristol Energy Co-op is empowering normal people to make a real difference to a carbon free future so this is a phenomenal shift in how we can stop talking and take action without waiting on government.”

Following completion of the crowdfunding campaign, a community benefit fund of £100,000 will be made available to local groups, with surplus profits from the solar projects to be reinvested into the fund.

Despite the considerable challenges faced by community energy projects since the loss of tax reliefs for the schemes last year, projects like BEC’s have continued to gain healthy levels of support from both the public and developers.

BEC partner Anesco has brought several community projects online recently such as the 4MW development at Oxcroft in association with Chesterfield Community Energy, while David Cameron recently threw his support behind a community scheme in his constituency