Local authority-backed community share offer raises £125,000

An 11th hour community share offer backed by Exeter City Council has raised £125,000 as the tax relief deadline approaches.

The Exeter Community Energy (ECOE) launched its ‘Solar Power Community Share Offer’ on November 7 with a target of raising £390,000 to install 300kWp of solar on the rooftops of community and commercial buildings across Exeter and East Devon.

The offer raised £70,000 in the first week and as of today (19 November) has reached the £125,000 barrier.

The solar panel installations have already started on two buildings, including the Exeter City Council-owned Wonford Community & Learning Centre.

The current share offer only runs until November 27 so investors can still qualify for Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Tax Relief, which will be abolished for community energy projects at the end of the month. 

“Despite the ongoing setbacks being created by changes to government policy, ECOE and other groups across the country are continuing to demonstrate that locally-generated, locally-owned electricity is a popular choice for communities wishing to take positive steps to address Climate Change and issues of resilience,” said ECOE Executive Chair, Gill Wyatt.

Local MP Ben Bradshaw is investing in the share offer and ECOE has also received the backing of the City Council for their projects. 

Devon County Council is in on-going negotiations with the group about extending existing solar installations on the rooftops of Exeter Central Library and Great Moor House, home to the Devon Archives. 

“We’re encouraging the people of Exeter to invest in this offer now to take advantage of the current tax reliefs as well as our target 5% interest rate,” said Ms Wyatt.

A second share issue will launch in the New Year to raise any funds not secured through this first community share offer.

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues