In August 2013, a public meeting was held at Glastonbury Town Hall by members of our community who wanted to get organised over re-localising energy production.
As a CO, I supported the group who coordinated the meeting, and I helped facilitate the community engagement and consultation – listening to what those present loved about renewable energy, their concerns, their visions for local energy projects, and their ideas for the future.
The event attracted a good-sized audience, who heard from two keynote speakers: SCS’s Alex Lawrie – who explained how to set up a Community Energy Co-operative – and Robin Mewes – who gave a presentation about Wedmore Community Power, and how they raised over a £1,000,000 through the issue of ‘Community Shares’.
The public meeting asked the question: “Do you think Glastonbury should generate its own source of renewable energy? ”
The answer was a resounding “YES! ”
I continued to be involved, and over the following months, Avalon Community Energy (ACE) Limited – registered as a Community Benefit Society, number 31969-R – started to build its membership; listening to the wider community; expanding its base to the West Mendip district, including Wells, Shepton Mallet, and Street, in addition to Glastonbury and the surrounding rural areas. The founding directors being Graham Lucas, Madeleine Milnes, Chris Briton, Earl Bramley-Howard, Alyson Black, Owen Saward, and… I found myself being elected the Chair!
Parallel to the board of directors, a ‘Breakthrough Technology’ group developed out of the community engagement and consultation – meeting regularly to explore the potential of new energy generation devices, cutting-edge research, and alternative technological solutions.
In the spring of 2014, an ACE website was created, and we put together a number of funding bids and possible projects – based on the feedback and suggestions coming from our community.
ACE made a successful application to the Cooperative Enterprise Hub for funding to secure development support, and also received a £20k grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund – part of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) – to conduct a feasibility study on our potential projects.
Early in 2015 – following the completion of the feasibility study, conducted by Communities For Renewables – two roof-top Solar PV projects were identified: Brookside Academy and Evercreech Junction industrial estate. Detailed plans were made, and the group prepared to raise funds using Community Shares.
A Share Offer Document was produced during the summer of 2015, and a Pioneer Share Offer was launched to raise £150k. A video supporting the offer was filmed and edited by local resident Kitty Treacy.
The Share Offer closed on 27th November 2015, with supporters and members of the community investing £184k into the project – £34k over the original target!
As I write, ACE is waiting for the Ofgem pre-registration of the Evercreech Junction project, which will install 173kW of solar PV over 6-8 rooftops on the industrial estate; and Ofgem’s pre-accreditation of the Brookside Academy project’s 88kW solar PV installation on the roof of the school.