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NORTH KENSINGTON COMMUNITY ENERGY

North Kensington Community Energy FAQs

North Kensington Community Energy is a registered Community Benefit Society founded on 6th July 2018. It is the first and only energy group working in the Kensington and Chelsea. Its mission is to develop community-owned renewable energy projects in the borough.

NKCE are supported by Repowering London, a social enterprise specialising in co-creating community energy schemes. The group also works closely with the RBKC Climate Change Team and have received funding support from the Mayor of London and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

We are launching the second phase of North Kensington Community Energy. We installed 138 kW of solar panels on the Westway Sports Centre in September 2020. In October, we will launch a community share offer to raise the £106,698 needed to finance the solar panels.

A Community Benefit Society is run primarily for the benefit of the community at large, rather than just for members of the society (that would be a co-operative society). This means that it must have an overarching community purpose that reaches beyond its membership. Although a Community Benefit Society has the power to pay interest on members’ share capital, it cannot distribute surpluses to members in the form of dividends.

North Kensington Community Energy is community group run by a diverse group of volunteers who are passionate about renewable energy and want to make a difference in tackling climate change. We have five voluntary directors who are listed in our share offer and on this website.

North Kensington Community Energy has funded the project with a loan from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. We are now looking to replace the loan by community finance. The project capital costs are £91,698 and £15,000 will be kept aside for Repowering’s project development and fundraising costs.

BENEFITS

This project will install solar panels on the Westway Sports Centre to empower the local community & save carbon emissions. It will generate renewable energy sold at a discounted rate to the Sports Centre, establish a £42,000 Community Fund to benefit the local area, enhance community cohesion, and provide an ethical investment opportunity for residents.  

The Community Fund will amount £42,000 over its lifetime (20 years).

The Westway Sports Centre project will save 28 tonnes of CO2 every year. With this new site, the NKCE projects altogether will save 46 tonnes CO2 every year.

 

As things stand, NKCE is not able to install and supply electricity to individual homes due to Government regulations and legal requirements. That’s why we are looking for schools, leisure centres, doctor surgeries, hospitals… Let us know if you have any ideas!  

COSTS

We are installing 138 kW of solar panels on the roof of the Westway Sports Centre. The panels and installation will cost £91,698.

The solar panels are financed collectively through a community share offer. Each shareholder will receive an annual return on investment of 3% and their capital back over the lifetime of the project.

The project will not cost any money to North Kensington residents. Residents can invest from £100, or £50 if they are under 25 or on benefits. They can also become non-investor members of the co-op for a £1 membership fee which entails the purchase of a single share.

FINANCES

This project earns profits from the sale of electricity (at a discounted rate) to the Westway Sports Centre, the sale of surplus electricity to the grid and from a government subsidy for generating clean electricity called the Feed-In-Tariff.

 

The costs involved are:

  • Installing solar panels on the Westway Sports Centre
  • Share offer development costs incurred by Repowering London
  • Meeting ongoing maintenance costs like insurance, electricity metre operations and equipment replacement
  • Co-op administrative costs (organising Annual General Meetings, communicating with stakeholders & community)
  • Providing an annual return to shareholders
  • Surplus income to be used for a Community Fund

As a Community Benefit Society, North Kensington Community Energy and its members own the solar panels. Community Benefit Societies are based on the democratic principle of ‘one member one vote’, where each member has one vote regardless of their investment. All investors in this project become members of the co-operative where individuals can become non-investor members for just £1. Once a year, the Society holds its Annual General Meeting where members decide how to spend the annual income and allocate the profits. During the year, the Society Directors maintain and develop the Society alongside the volunteers.

SHARES

Community shares are ‘withdrawable shares’ which can only be issued by co-operatives or community benefit societies. Co-operative societies are for the mutual benefit of their members, whereas community benefit societies are for the broader benefit of the whole community. A withdrawable share can be withdrawn from investment, subject to the terms and conditions of the society concerned.  

If you want to learn more, visit the Co-operatives UK website.  

No. Every year, the members will receive their interests and be asked if they would like to withdraw their shares. Members’ share capital will be repaid every year over the 20 year period subject to financial performance and available funds.

You will receive your share interest and eventually your capital repayment every year on your bank account. You can choose to donate your interests to the Community Fund if you wish to do so.   

North Kensington Community Energy relies on the majority of its investors to keep their share in the project for 20 years. Earlier withdrawal of capital might be requested but it is at the discretion of the board to approve these requests, based on the financial performance of the co-operative. The project has smaller reserves in the first 10 years of the project and thus, full withdrawal of capital will be difficult during this period.

When you joined NKCE in 2019, you did so for the specific aim of installing solar panels on three sites, Avondale Primary School, Thomas Jones Primary School and the Dalgarno Community Centre, and by investing in the project having read our share offer, a contractual agreement was made.

At our 2020 AGM, the directors of NKCE proposed to amend this agreement to allow the Society to hold further share offers and raise funds to install solar panels on other sites in RBKC, starting with the Westway Sports Centre. To keep things simple, the directors proposed to assign all NKCE members a single class of shares, so that all projects will have the same share offer terms (annual rate of return, capital repayment and share withdrawal policy – as detailed in The investment opportunity). This means that all NKCE members will share risk and benefits of new solar installs (if they under/over perform). Ultimately, more installs should dilute risks of one site having an issue. However, you must trust the directors have completed their checks to ensure new projects are financially viable. If not, that could affect your capital and interest repayments.

This proposition from the directors was accepted by the all the members present at our AGM. For more information, please contact us at info@repowering.org.uk

RISKS

The sale of community shares is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority since investors are deemed to be investing for social returns and not financial gain. This is beneficial for community ventures which would otherwise face prohibitively expensive regulations when marketing community shares. However, this does not give community investors any right to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service or apply to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Community shares are riskier than depositing money in a savings account with a bank or building society but we believe that North Kensington Community Energy is a relatively secure investment. Nonetheless, any project inevitably has risks which should be considered before investing.

The North Kensington Community Energy project will provide an expected return of 3% annual interest to shareholders over its lifetime, but this return is not guaranteed. The payment of interest each year is not guaranteed and is subject to approval by the Directors.

 

TECHNICAL

Yes! If there is enough sun to grow vegetables, there is enough to make solar energy. Previous Repowering projects like Brixton Energy Solar 1, Solar 2 and Solar 3 have successfully generated their own electricity, and solar power is becoming increasingly popular across the country. 

In Phase 2 of the North Kensington Community Energy, 138 KW will be installed on the roof of the Westway Sports Centre.

The solar panels have already been installed.

The solar panels will potentially last several decades. The panels lose 0.5% efficiency every year and thus they will still be atleast 90% efficient after 20 years when the project will come to an end. At the end of the 20-year project, the ownership of the panels will be transferred to Westway Trust.

Ecolution Group has already designed and installed the solar panels, and will provide maintenance and repair work throughout the project.

Judging by past projects we anticipate access once a year to check all is in functioning order. No other regular maintenance is expected to be required.  Panels have built in monitoring equipment which greatly reduce the need for access.  Access will only be required in the unlikely event of a malfunction.  

Solar panels come with a 10-year warranty and are insured by North Kensington Community Energy. The installation will be fully insured for risks such as accidental and malicious damage. 

CoEnergy is the software that Repowering use to manage it’s investments