PRESS RELEASE - Plymouth’s largest solar array switches on for the community
Two community organisations in Plymouth have defied the odds to build ‘Ernie’; the city’s largest solar farm, generating clean energy and long-term funds for the community that own it.
Four Greens Community Trust (FGCT and PEC Renewables (sister company of Plymouth Energy Community (PEC)) teamed up last year to bring a former landfill site, located between the sewage treatment works and MOD armament site in Ernesettle, into economic use. FGCT is a local economic development trust, set up to provide local jobs, enterprise and training in the north of the city. The land is part of a package of land and property being transferred to the trust, by Plymouth City Council, for use by the community for the community.
With a range of services helping residents reduce their energy use and an impressive portfolio of 32 community-funded solar roofs in the city, PEC and PEC Renewables, are award-winning, community-led organisations passionate about changing the way people buy, use and generate energy. The 1500-member strong group are determined to establish a community energy ownership model that’s financially sustainable; delivering returns to investors, clean energy solutions and profits that are invested other local fuel poverty and energy projects.
Alistair Macpherson, CEO of PEC and PEC Renewables said “Switching on Ernie means we have smashed our target to deliver 5MW of new clean energy generation, 3 years early! These are hugely challenging times for the renewables industry – government’s systematic dismantling of support for solar power and community energy meant this was a ‘now or never’ project. To deliver a scheme of this scale is a huge achievement.”
PEC Renewables have used a construction loan from Pure Leapfrog, a charity whose mission is to enable energy projects deliver positive social impact for local communities. This allowed the project to be completed in advance of the looming subsidy cuts; and means PEC Renewables will be able to launch another opportunity to own part of it through community shares.
“We have had tremendous support from forward-thinking partners at Plymouth City Council” says Dave Garland, Chairman of PEC Renewables, “they recognise the benefits of investing in community assets like this and we are working with them to finalise a long-term investment opportunity, to complement our upcoming community share offer. Huge thanks are also due to Community for Renewables CIC, Pfalz Solar, Foot Anstey, Francis Clark, Stephen Scown and Pure Leapfrog, without whom we would not see that stunning sea of solar panels today!”
“Four Greens are excited to be involved in this project” says Dave Vear, FGCT Board Chairman. “Being able to generate green energy and receive an income to help residents in our community is fantastic. Alongside our community garden in Ernesettle and community business hub in Whitleigh, things are really taking shape.”
“We are hugely impressed by the enterprise PEC Renewables has shown to get this project completed against the odds. Ernesettle Community Solar is now generating value from otherwise derelict land, and creating the potential for a long term community owned asset”, says Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Co-operatives and Housing, “We are excited to be able to further this work through our loan investment.”
The solar array, generating equivalent energy to power 1000 homes, started supplying clean energy to the grid on 22 March. PEC Renewables will invite the public to purchase community shares in the project in early May and earn a fair return. With a minimum investment of £50 and maximum of £100,000, they aim to raise £1.23 million.
To find out more and to register your interest in the upcoming share offer, please visit www.plymouthenergycommunity.com/ernesettle.
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Alistair Macpherson 01752477117 firstname.lastname@example.org
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