An exciting initiative, which could see green energy projects rolled out across the Borough, could come a step closer this week as Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making Executive discuss plans for a local community energy scheme.
Part of the council’s vision to help reduce local greenhouse emissions, encourage sustainable energy projects and tackle the climate emergency, the scheme would see a new independent Community Action Group set up called Wokingham Community Energy.
Wokingham Community Energy (WCE), would then seek to raise money by selling community shares in the scheme, with income raised used to roll out green energy projects within Wokingham borough.
Profits made by the scheme, through the sale of green energy to customers or back into the national grid, would be used to pay interest to shareholders with the remainder going into a pot to fund green projects and initiatives within the community.
“Climate emergency is a massive issue and it won’t go away unless individuals and bodies start to step up and make changes to the way things are done. Wokingham Community Energy is a fantastic opportunity to see more sustainable energy projects rolled out across the Wokingham Borough.” Said Cllr Gregor Murray, executive member for resident services, communications and emissions. “This is a very much a local scheme, with funds invested to improve the amount of sustainable energy generated locally, and with excess profits put back into local green initiatives.”
“It’s also an opportunity for local people and businesses who are committed to tackling the climate emergency to get involved, either by becoming an investor in the fund, or by working with the Wokingham Community Energy scheme to identify and roll out local projects.”
The new Wokingham scheme plans to work closely with Energy4All, the national body established to help implement schemes such as this across the UK, and the local Reading Community Energy Fund (RCEF) which was established in 2016 to implement a similar community energy project in Reading Borough.
Cllr Murray continued “By working closely with these well-established and successful groups we will be able to benefit from their advice and use their best practice in rolling out the new Wokingham Community Energy scheme. However we are adamant that any money raised from shareholders will be ring-fenced for projects within Wokingham Borough and that the community pot will also be used locally.
Should the scheme be approved by the executive, Wokingham Community Energy will start the process of setting itself up as a Community Action Group, entering into agreements with RCES and Energy4All and establishing details such as the amount people can invest and the types of projects which can be invested in.
Potential projects are expected to include investments such as installing large banks of solar panels on top of public or large commercial buildings, with those leasing space to the scheme not only being able to benefit from their improved green credentials, but also the opportunity to buy green sustainable energy back from the scheme at preferential fixed rates.
It is hoped the scheme would launch in the spring with more information for interested investors provided in March.