After the success of SELCE’s first community share offer, the co-op’s directors and volunteers started 2016 with a brainstorming weekend in Kent. Our aim was to discuss a range of projects that we could develop over the medium term.
Sadly, the Chancellor’s recent decision to reduce subsidies for solar energy means that we need to look at new business models if we want to continue developing community energy projects and reducing fuel poverty in SE London.
The really good news is that SELCE ‘pre-accredited’ eight local community buildings before the subsidy cuts were introduced. This means that we’ll be able to launch a second solar-based community share offer (with annual interest payments of around 4% to investors) later this year.
Meanwhile, new projects considered during the brainstorming weekend included: a permanent energy advice shop and cafe; a business plan based on improving water use efficiency in schools and community buildings; and setting up a solar-powered car club for SE London.
Based in a picturesque, if rather chilly, Georgian barn, the SELCE team went through the pros and cons of each of the nine ideas on the table as well as fine-tuning SELCE’s structure and governance. We also took some time out for a walk through the Kentish countryside and a quick visit to the local pub.
The photo below shows nearly all of the team (somehow we failed to get any photos of the entire crew together). Incidentally, the barn was so cold when we arrived that we spent our first two sessions dressed in overcoats, hats and gloves. The barn’s owner declined our offer of expert advice on heat insulation but, mercifully, she did provide us with two extra heaters.
Big thanks to everyone who came along for making the weekend so fun and productive.