Fair winds blowing for Urras Energy Community Share Offer
In early 2015, Urras Energy Society surpassed their £600k community share target – providing the final piece in the financial jigsaw for the second phase of a wind turbine development on the Isle of Lewis.
After only 6 months of the new turbines being in operation, the group are making excellent progress. Performance reached 94% of the forecast over the six months to March which was considered a satisfactory outcome for the initial period.
An update was also provided to directors on the strategic planning being undertaken by Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn across the Galson Estate to guide the distribution of wind energy incomes. A number of strategy workshops have been held with members of the community and the early indications are that tourism developments, elderly care provision and crofting/land use are the priorities for development.
A small pilot Community Investment Fund offering up to £1,000 is already in operation within the Galson Estate and, to date, Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn has grant supported 16 community projects. With the imminent release of wind income to the organisation, higher levels of intervention will be rolled out after completion of the strategic planning exercise currently underway.
Carola Bell, Chair of Urras Energy Society commented “It was hugely encouraging to see the new Board of Directors come together for the first time and engage so wholeheartedly with the project. We were so pleased to be in a position to consider the first interest payment to the shareholders after only six months of the new turbines being in operation. We are delighted with the progress made since the launch of the share offer and with the support of our shareholders and our partner organisations, Galson Energy and Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn. It’s very rewarding to see Urras Energy Society delivering so effectively on its original promise to offer a competitive return on investments that are both green and ethical."
Urras Energy Society has announced that its shareholders will receive a market-leading 4% interest for their investments for the first year. Interest will be reviewed each year and scope remains for higher returns in future years for the 167 members.
The new Board of Directors, who were appointed at the Annual General Meeting last November, met on 19th April to consider the interest rate for investors and discuss a range of set-up issues. Directors received an update on the installation and commissioning of the two new turbines at Baile an Truiseil plus a summary of production over the winter.
Directors also heard that the financing of the new turbines had been concluded on very satisfactory terms with significant savings on capital expenditure and competitive loan interest rates achieved by the subsidiary company, Galson Energy, from Triodos Bank. On operational issues, the main challenge for Galson Energy continues to be the scale of planned maintenance by Scottish and Southern Energy on the electricity grid each year as the community wind turbines currently are unable to export electricity during these periods.
Urras Energy directors plan to meet again in the autumn to review progress and plan ahead for the second AGM which is now earmarked for March 2017.