Staffordshire Sunny Schools
Staffordshire Sunny Schools – report
Gen Community raised £600,000 to fund a portfolio of solar PV systems on 18 schools across Staffordshire in 2015. The principal aim of the project was to significantly reduce the schools’ energy bills, through the provision of free electricity when the solar PV systems are generating. The second aim was a wider educational benefit to fit in with the school curriculum.
Gen Community partnered with Southern Staffordshire Community Energy, a local community benefit society to deliver the community fund and catalyse further community support initiatives in the area.
Gen Community worked with the solar contractor who won the local authority tender for the project for 12 months ahead of the community raise. Gen Community conducted due diligence on the solar contractor prior to, and at the end of the community raise. Concerns were raised with the local authority at the end of the community raise that the solar contractor was no longer in a sound financial position in order for Gen Community to deploy the £600,000 capital.
The solar contractor went into administration, and Gen Community worked with the local authority for a further nine months to have the project legally transferred to Gen Community. Unfortunately, the FiT tariff was only guaranteed for 12 months, and the projections in the share offer to potential members were based on this tariff.
The board of Gen Community agreed to return all the raised funds, £600,000, in total back to potential members and not progress with the project. This was a sad day for the project, but also a proud day for Gen Community, as we had stated in our share offer that funds would be returned to members, if the project did not go ahead.