Shares in £1m Wedmore solar energy plant skyrocket

This is The West Country: Founders of the Co-operative, Robin Mewes and Vanessa Becker-Hughes, with a solar panel by the Wedmore village sign. Photo: submitted. Founders of the Co-operative, Robin Mewes and Vanessa Becker-Hughes, with a solar panel by the Wedmore village sign. Photo: submitted.

COMMUNITY shares in a Wedmore solar energy plant have already raised £265,000 towards the £1.1million needed for the project.

The scheme includes two paddocks of 4,000 solar panels on land off Quab Lane to the north-west of the village and is being run by Wedmore Community Power Co-operative Ltd.

Local investors have already bought enough shares in the project to raise over a fifth of the total needed in just four weeks since they went on sale last month.

Co-operative secretary Robin Mewes said: “We are delighted at the strong local response to the offer of shares in our solar energy plant.

“Nearly all the investors so far are from the Wedmore area, taking advantage of a £250 threshold for local investors. People from outside the area have to take a minimum stake of £2,500.”

The electricity will be sold to power supply company, Good Energy, and the co-operative will receive a Government Feed-in Tariff.

The income will enable it to pay interest to investors and repay their stake during the project’s 27-year lifetime.

It is hoped the project will plough £500,000 back to the community and generate enough electricity to power 300 domestic solar instillations.

Now the co-operative is extending the share offer to outside investors, who can benefit from a 30% tax rebate on their investment.

Vanessa Becker Hughes, director of the Co-operative, told the Weekly News: “The response has been fantastic.

“The website’s just been going berserk and we have had national media coverage.

“The project is a perfect model for other communities to adopt and follow.”

Meanwhile Burnham MP Tessa Munt has praised the community project in parliament.

She said: “I would love to see more projects like the Wedmore scheme that work with and for communities.

“There will always be room for corporate players in the market, especially in industrial areas and on brownfield sites, but in rural areas, the community and co-op model is far preferable.”

Work to install the panels is expected to start in September. For more information call Robin Mewes on 01934-712826 or visit the website at www.wedmorecpc.co.uk

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