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Westmill Solar

Who benefits

Westmill Solar Co-operative brings benefits to its members, the local community and the environment. The solar park has consistently generated more clean, green renewable energy than was forecast at the time of the initial share offer. The Society is committed to ensuring that Westmill remains a pioneer in community energy, inspiring and supporting other organisations that share the co-operative vision of the sector and broader concerns about climate change.

The Society's members

The Co-operative has over 1,500 members. Most of the members live locally and many are also members of other co-operatives.

Members receive an annual return providing an indirect benefit to the local economy, rather than the returns going to a big private company.

Member engagement is an important aspect of the Co-operative’s governance and ideas , comments and assistance from members are always welcome. Recent input from members helped to develop proposals on community fund payments initiated by the members’ working group after the 2015 AGM, with nearly one third of members responding to the proposals which were circulated in December 2016.

Renewable energy generation

In 2016 the solar plant generated 5,080 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, the equivalent consumption of 1,639 households. This was 15% higher than the P50 forecast output of 4,422MWh and similar to the 5,072 MWh generated in 2015.

This amount of generation means that each of Westmill's members can take credit for 3,348 kWh of carbon-free electricity. Or, put another way, members who use the 3,100 kWh typical consumption of a UK household have effectively off-set all of their carbon emissions from their electricity usage.

The local community

As well as offering local people the opportunity to share in the direct rewards of the project, the solar farm provides a number of associated benefits for the area. These include boosting the local economy by making sure the profits stay in the area, encouraging visitors and raising the local area’s profile.

Research shows that community owned renewable energy projects deliver a host of benefits over conventional industry owned projects, and the Westmill team believe it is right that the community share in the benefits of a significant local project – so the Society aimed to make it easy for as many people as possible, from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible, to invest. Westmill also believe ownership should be equitable – so no matter the level of investment, each member has a vote at each year’s AGM.

As part of this community commitment the co-operative makes an annual contribution to a community fund, supporting clean, green energy and good local causes like WeSET (Westmill Sustainable Energy Trust), a local charitable organisation.

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