Updated: Jan 5
Dear WWCE Members
Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year to all our members.
Although we have all been deeply affected by the pandemic this year, the sun keeps shining and we have continued to develop Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy in line with our mission to reduce carbon and improve wildlife in Wiltshire.
We have completed a refinance of our loan with Triodos Bank to release funds to repay some of our member capital. Our solar arrays have been performing well, enabling us to pay member interest at 4% for the year to March 2020 (paid at the end of November) and allocate money for our community fund. In helping the wider community we provided £4,000 of funding to the Wiltshire and Swindon Community Foundation to assist local households struggling as a result of the Corona crisis.
Wildlife continues to thrive around our solar panels with sightings of Little Owls, Chiffchaff, Roe Deer, Foxes, Weasels and Brown hairstreak butterflies. However, disappointingly record-breaking heat and rain had a negative impact on reptile and amphibians. In line with government restrictions we conducted our board meetings via teleconference and for the first time the WWCE AGM was conducted “virtually” in September and worked well. If you were not able to attend please have a look at the presentation which gives a full round for the last finance year, and our plans for developing more community energy projects to help Wiltshire reduce its carbon emissions and protect our wildlife.
I have been Chair of WWCE since we started to build Braydon Manor, taking over from Denis Gambaroni , the founding chair and Vice President of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. I was nominated by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust as one of the two directors they appoint to the board. It has been an interesting and challenging 6 years and I am pleased and proud to have been part of an organisation which has produced significant amounts of renewable energy, raised nearly £50,000 for the community in Wiltshire while continuing to promote and enhance biodiversity on our sites.
I am stepping down from the end of the year and Julian Barlow, who is currently a Trustee of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust , is taking over as Chair of WWCE. I will still remain a Director. Julian, who is a local businessman and a Parish Councillor in Compton Bassett, has strong commercial experience and a keen interest in bee keeping. His close association with the Wildlife Trust should help is all in working closely to create a greener Wiltshire. I know he has many useful ideas for extending the work that we do and I wish him well in the role.
We also welcome two new members to the board: Lucy Normington and Russell Abbott who have been co-opted following our call for more directors at the AGM. Lucy has lived in Purton, Wiltshire, for almost 20 years. She has been active on the committees of various local community groups such as Mum’s & Toddlers, Under 5 Community Playgroup, and Purton and Lydiard Scout Group. She is currently a project impact evaluator for Innovate UK, a government funding body that is based in Swindon. Lucy is passionate about Wiltshire’s wildlife and communities. Russell has spent the last 30 years in marketing working with a range of large UK and global companies, including launching the Tesco’s ‘Free From’ brand. More recently, Russell has been mentoring owners and directors of SMEs who want to grow their businesses. Russell is also a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin university teaching marketing to under graduates. Russell is keen to examine ways we can reduce are carbon footprint in Wiltshire through some practical initiatives.
Finally I would like to offer thanks to Bob Knapp who has stepped down from the WWCE board to pursue new non-exec interests. His input over the years has been much appreciated.
We have some exciting things planned next year including:
· The first honey crop from our Solar Bees
· Launch of a new green carbon reduction scheme in Wiltshire by WWCE
· Exploration of potential new community solar farm sites
· Developing our partnership with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to develop new renewable energy and nature projects
So I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, fingers crossed for better things in 2021!
Lesley Bennett on behalf of the WWCE board
Solar Array Performance
With winter setting in, irradiance levels have dropped off. However, we are still just ahead of projections for October and November. Braydon has performed well over the past two months, exceeding its long-term average generation projection by 14% overall. We are still working to solve inverter issues at Chelworth, which caused a 9% shortfall in generation against its long-term projections. Both sites combined, were 10% ahead of projections.
Community Benefit Activities
We’ve allocated £20,000 to our community fund. If you have a community-based idea to help deliver less carbon and more wildlife in Wiltshire, we would love to hear from you. The application form and guidance can be found on our website: www.wwce.org
Refinance and share buy-back As announced at the AGM in September, we have refinanced our Triodos Bank loan to release £400,000 of funds to repay around 10% of WWCE’s member share capital. If you would like to apply to have some or all of your WWCE shares repaid, please contact Ethex before 31st December. You will have received an email from them at the beginning of December with instructions. We have already received applications exceeding the allocation. The directors will meet in January to determine a threshold below which applications will be repaid in full. Applications over the threshold will be scaled back so that the total amount paid is £400,000. You will be informed of the value of your investment to be repaid by 31st January 2021, and repayments will be made in February 2021. In future years WWCE will continue to make share capital repayments out of revenue, subject to available funds. The money available for this is likely to be significantly smaller for the next few years and applications for withdrawal will be considered once per year. WWCE’s share buyback policy is available on the Documents page of WWCE’s website. The intention is to have repaid all share capital by 2042.
Ethex If you have any queries about your shares or need to change your email or bank details please contact our share registrar Ethex. As of the beginning of May 2020, the Registry records for Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy shares were transferred from Neville Registrars to Ethex Registry. Ethex Registry are the key point of contact in relation to any matters of member shareholdings. This service stores your shares certificates in a digital format and you are able to access your records online and print out certificates at any time via the Ethex Registry Portal - https://registry.ethex.org.uk/. Login details and information on how to use the system will have been sent to you directly by Ethex Registry, but if you have any questions at all about your holdings, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Ethex for help on email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01865 403304.