Thanks for your various questions about the share offer. Here are some answers and we will be pleased to answer any more. Simply e-mail your question to [email protected]
Can I invest through my company?
Yes, you can. The Application Form has a separate form for this eventuality on page 5.
Can I invest for my children?
Yes, you can and there is a separate form for this eventuality on page 4 of the Application Form. However, there is one proviso: the rules of the co-operative movement specify that you have to be 16 to be a member. So, while you can invest your money in your child’s name you will be the member representing that shareholding until your child is 16. Then they become the member. But you can specify that you wish the child to be the recipient of the payments as long as they have a bank account we can pay into.
Can I invest in just the solar project?
Unfortunately, not. Assuming we achieve our target of £240,000 investment the solar PV and LED projects will be funded from the same share offer, and your investment, whatever the amount, will be split proportionately between the two projects. We won’t know the precise split until the project finances are finalised, but it is likely that money will be divided just over 40% to the solar project and just under 60% to the LED projects.
Why is the LED project more expensive than the solar project?
Doubtless you will have fitted some LED lighting in your own home and will know the rough cost of switching over light bulbs and light fittings! We have to do that nearly 2,000 times across the two sites. Furthermore, some of the new fittings are quite complex. In a typical school there is a vast range of fitting styles some of which require re-wiring, others are in hard-to-reach places (which is one reason the school has not tackled them yet!), and some require updating the emergency lighting too. Designing, and fitting a new lighting system, to comply with regulations and to look great, is costlier and involves more labour and equipment than switching out your lightbulbs at home.
The news recently has had an expose about the use of slave labour in producing raw materials for Chinese solar-PV panels. What are you doing about that?
Our experts tell us that virtually all installations of solar PV including installations by community energy groups use panels from China. The concern is over the sourcing of polysilicon (a raw material) from Xinjiang not the manufacture of panels themselves. Different Chinese PV manufacturers source their raw materials in different ways. Our installers promise to do their best to ensure that our panels are produced without exploitation. Meanwhile for this installation we have decided that one third of our installation (one of our three roofs at Charter, North Dulwich) will use panels made in Spain. They are more expensive, although the cost is not prohibitive, and the cost of buying panels is no longer the biggest cost in installing solar PV. Our installers are then going to monitor the relative performance of the different panel configurations over the coming years, and we will share that information with other community energy groups and use it to guide our future installations.
How do you pay back your investors?
You will be sent a payment to your bank account (by BACS) and a statement (by e mail). When you get your statement, it will show:
- How much of the payment relates to the 10-year shares issued to finance the LED projects and how much of the payment relates to the 15-year shares issued to finance the solar project and
- for both of these payments, it will show how much of the payment is repayment of capital (which is not taxable) and how much is interest (which is).
It is intended that these payments will be made once per year, typically in Autumn, but as happened in 2020 we might stagger payments if we have cash flow issues, and we will always pay shareholders only when the business can afford to do so and not threaten our prudent level of operating reserves which we keep under scrutiny but were set at £10,000 last year.