11 April 2019

Notes from meeting 11th April, Quaker Meeting House, Salisbury

 It was agreed that the next meeting will be in July at the Wessex Water offices near Bath on the theme of ‘Advocacy and engagement with decision makers and local authorities.’ Lesley Bennett will contact Wessex Water to check possible dates. Our first choice would be Friday 12th July which we will confirm ASAP. There was also a discussion on registering WCEN as a Community Benefit Society or Community Interest Company, which could be discussed at a meeting in October, but it may be worthwhile to start the discussion by inviting  a guest speaker from Community Energy South (already a legal entity) to address the July meeting?

Anna Francis (Frome Community Energy), Cara Naden (Avalon Community Energy), Tom Burnett (Dorset Community Energy) and Liz Warren (Frome Community Energy) agreed at our January meeting to participate in a working group to plan and choose speakers for the July and October meetings.

David Saunders (Zero Carbon Bristol) mentioned the availability of UKRI innovation funding in an Energy Innovation round opening in May https://www.ukri.org/innovation/industrial-strategy-challenge-fund/prospering-from-the-energy-revolution

David suggested  a project idea, in which WCEN could participate, which would include using a Citizens Panel to develop a county of regional low carbon road map and action plan and start to deliver it with the 2-year grant funded project. Etty George (Sharenergy) mentioned that Sharenergy has direct previous experience of a UKRI Innovation project which needs to include a number of partners such as universities and business sector representatives. Etty and David will prepare  a 1-page summary of the project proposal including typical partners required which will be circulated to all WCEN members. If of interest members will contact local authorities and potential partners to test the appetite to submit an application within the deadline. Anyone interested will report back at the July meeting.

Pete West (Dorset Community Energy) mentioned he is interested in working with Wiltshire councillors Dr Brian Mathew and Dr Nick Murry (both WCEN members) to see if it is possible to launch a Low Carbon Swindon and Wiltshire 40% capital grant fund using the £5m Low Carbon European Structural and Investment Funding available to the Swindon and Wiltshire LEP and not yet allocated. Pete has experience of developing a similar programme in Dorset which has proved very successful and has received 150 applications to date. One idea would be a simple competitive tender to install solar PV on a large number of public buildings, community buildings and schools backed by a 40% capital grant (ie FIT no longer needed) . The new SW Energy Hub technical advisors would be asked to identify the sites to be included in the tender,  including roof structural surveys and grid connection offers. In Dorset the technical support is funded through the grant, e.g. If a similar project in Wiltshire project delivers £2m of PV (or other renewables) the EU ESIF fund provides the LEP with 50% (£1m) which is divided as £800,000 capital grant towards project delivery (40%) and £200,000 towards the grant management costs and cost of SW Hub Technical Advisor services- which makes the whole scheme self-financing with long term financial and environmental benefits to the local economy.

Alison Craig ( Salisbury Community Energy) mentioned she has recently received an e mail from the Swindon and Wiltshire LEP inviting WCEN to apply for grant funding towards operational costs of the network (we could certainly benefit from funding to develop our website! ) Alison will follow up and report back at the next meeting.

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