Chase Community Solar Limited (CCS) is a community benefit society, a type of mutual registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. It was formed in 2014 and is managed by a board of directors, all of whom are unpaid volunteers, and it has no staff.
CCS is composed of its members, who are shareholders in the society, having invested in the Cannock Chase project. There are around 200 of them. It is their money that, through what is known as a community share issue, has enabled much of the project to go ahead, but the addition of funds from a loan by an ethical provider made it possible to fit panels on more bungalows than could have been done with only investors’ money. The final total was 314 homes fitted with PV installations in 2015.
The scheme, which has a planned life of 20 years, is eligible to receive the Feed-in-Tariff from the government, which is a subsidy for certain renewable energy installations. This, along with the funds raised by selling the exported electricity to the grid, forms the society’s income, and is used to pay for the society’s overheads, as well as a return to investors on their money. If there is any further surplus, this will be directed into a community fund for local benefit.
We believe this is the first such scheme in the UK. We hope that, if successful, it will be an inspiration for similar community energy projects with councils and other social housing providers all over the UK.