Some really sad news for community energy and our friends at 10:10 and #Balcombe… although it ain’t over yet!
After fighting off a controversial fracking project in 2013, the people of #Balcombe have been working to repower their village with community owned solar panels.
Their solar dream has inspired people all over the world. But last week that dream to an end.
The plan was to build a nature-friendly solar park large enough to power the whole village, with every panel owned by the local community.
Repower Balcombe – the group of local volunteers who run the project – were just hours away from buying the lease on the land. But when the Treasury unexpectedly scrapped a tax break that community energy groups rely on to raise funds, they had no choice but to cancel the project.
The final straw
The group had already weathered a series of cuts and changes to support for clean energy, and the removal of the tax break was the final straw, making it impossible for the project to go ahead.
“It was an incredibly hard decision”, said Joe Nixon from Repower Balcombe, “but the policy situation simply meant we were haemorrhaging investor confidence.”
The good news is that solar panels should still be built on the land next year, generating clean electricity and bringing real benefits to the local area. But they’ll be owned and controlled by a commercial developer – not the local community. And there’ll be no opportunity for supporters to invest in the project, as was originally planned.
As Joe put it:
We’re still incredibly proud of the work we’ve done, and excited to see the farm open next year. But it’s bitterly disappointing that it won’t be a community-run project, because we don’t just need to decarbonise our energy system, we need to give people more of a say in it.
This ain’t over
It’s a sad and frustrating day for anyone who shares Balcombe’s vision for a brighter future. But we don’t have to give up on that vision.
Balcombe may be out of the running, but there are around 20 other community energy groups racing to raise their money and beat the tax break deadline.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we worked together to make sure every single one of them goes ahead?
Please email me at Louisa.firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to support 10:10 in their community energy and we will keep you updated with next steps and how we can help.
Remember: like with all investments, your capital is at risk when you invest in community energy. You should never invest more than you can afford to lose, and always get professional advice if you’re unsure.