WHAT IS REPOWERBALCOMBE?
REPOWERBalcombe, is a co-operative run by a group of friendly Balcombe locals that aims to meet 100% of Balcombe’s energy needs from renewable sources.

 

WHAT IS A CO-OPERATIVE?
An organization which is owned and run democratically by its members, who share the profits or benefits. They are not only concerned with profit, but work together to achieve broader community, environmental and social goals.

 

WHAT IS RENEWABLE ENERGY?
Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat.

 

HOW WAS RPB FORMED?
In 2013 Balcombe was a community divided by the threat of fracking in our village. In response to this we held a meeting. We wanted to bring people back together around something positive that would benefit the community now, as well as protect the future for our children. REPOWERBalcombe was born.

 

WHAT DOES REPOWERBALCOMBE DO? 

  • Raises money by offering shares to members
  • Finances the installation of solar panels on local roofs
  • Receives an income from the electricity generated through the Feed-in-Tariff and sale of electricity.
  • Uses this money to pay a return to investors grow a community benefit fund!

 

WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS?
Each installation will result in a reduction of CO2 emissions. We are also hoping it will encourage more awareness of energy – both generation and energy efficiency – within the local community and beyond!

 

HOW MUCH DOES A SHARE COST?
The minimum investment is currently £250. The maximum investment is a third of the total share offer being presented, however, this is legally capped at £100,000.

 

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
There are lots of ways you can get involved. You could:

  • Invest in the co-operative and become a member
  • Suggest sites where we can install solar panels
  • Volunteer with us at one of our community events
  • Join our co-operative planning meetings

 

HOW WILL THE COMMUNITY BENEFIT FUND BE USED AND WHO DECIDES?
We aim to support community and environmental projects in Balcombe, such as:

  • Energy efficiency improvements to community buildings and homes
  • Environmental and social education events
  • Improvements to the local environment

The specific projects we will fund will be decided democratically at the co-operative’s annual general meeting and each member of the co-operative will have a vote.

 

WHERE WILL THE SOLAR PANELS BE INSTALLED?
Community and commercial buildings with large roof space in and around the village of Balcombe. We are also investigating the possibility of a ground-mounted solar array. To date we have installed 69 solar panels on Grange Farm’s cow shed. We will soon be installing more panels on two local primary schools.

 

WOULD WE STILL GET THE 5% RETURN ON INVESTMENT IF THE WEATHER IS SO BAD THAT THE PANELS DON’T GENERATE ENOUGH ELECRICITY?
There are many community energy projects across England and – despite the bad English weather – the majority do deliver the financial return they predict. Solar power has made great technical progress in recent years so the panels will generate electricity throughout daylight hours. We have created a thorough financial model that takes the average weather conditions of the Balcombe area into account. Our models predict that we will deliver a 5% return to investors. All investors are welcome to see the financial models from which these predictions are made.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CHANGES TO THE FEED-IN-TARRIF?
Any future changes to the Feed-in-Tariff will not affect your investment in REPOWERBalcombe. The Feed-in-Tariff is guaranteed for 20 years following project registration and increases each year in line with inflation.

 

WHAT HAPPENS TO INVESTMENTS IF THE PROJECT GOES BUST?
This project is at lower risk than many long term investments because it is underpinned by the Feed-in-Tariff which is a Government-sponsored programme that guarantees payment for the energy generated for 20 years. If the project is abandoned prior to the purchase of solar panels, money will be returned to investors.

 

IS SOLAR THE ONLY ENERGY YOU’RE LOOKING AT?
For now, yes. Our aim is to generate the equivalent of 100% of Balcombe’s electricity usage. We currently have no specific plans to deploy other renewable energy technologies, but may seek to do so in the future if appropriate opportunities present themselves.

 

I AM INSPIRED AND WANT TO START AN ENERGY CO-OPERATIVE IN MY AREA, HOW DO I START?
Please contact the Positive Investment team at 10:10 via email: backbalcombe@1010uk.org or check out their website at backbalcombe.org.