You can find all the technical and financial information at the link above, but the key points as I see them are:
- The project is raising money to put solar panels on the roofs of 25 schools across the county. Three installations have already been completed.
- They're looking to raise £880,000 pounds from across the UK but as much from local communities and businesses as possible.
- Constitutionally GenCom is a community benefit society.(good definition here) run for the benefit of the community rather than just investors.
- The solar panels are projected to save about 10,500 barrels of oil over the 20 year life-time of the project and £1.8-2.8 million worth of energy savings to schools.
- Minimum investment of £500 - deadline 24 February 2014
- Any surplus after investor profit (projected 10.48% return with tax relief) goes to Community Fund managed by South Staffordshire Community Energy.
I was impressed by the approach taken - it was a fairly technical talk to a largely technical, environmentally minded audience (many of them SSCE members) who can act as a transmission belt to others around the Lichfield area.
Take the role of schools as community hubs into consideration - potential local investors will probably be 1 degree of separation from a school at most - and you then have an excellent way of 'selling' the project to local investors and supporters. Coupled with some targeted national fundraising it's no wonder GenCom seemed confident they'd raise the money.
Solar-panelled schools also provide a platform for practical education and awareness raising among pupils.
All in all - it's great to see one of these projects developing at ground-level and I'm going to see what I can do (work hat on and off) to spread a little awareness of this around the county and beyond.