Trust Invests in Green Energy as NICE Nears Target
Leading social enterprises, charities and co-operatives who are lining up to buy shares in Northern Ireland’s first community owned solar enterprise company, and the Trust has joined them by making an investment of £1000.
Northern Ireland Community Energy (NICE) has raised £127,000 from its first community share offer, with more and more environmentally concerned organisations coming on board.
Its directors have extended the deadline for its share offer until June 23 to meet its target of £150,000 and give other potential investors time to get involved in this not-for-profit green energy initiative.
NICE Director Karen Arbuckle said: “It is great to see other social enterprises and co-operatives coming on board with our project, which is the ethos of what we are all about. We are confident that with a few more weeks available we can get the £150,000 which means we achieve all that we set out to do and achieve a better return for our investors and a bigger community fund".
Among those investing is the Building Change Trust, the organisation set up to promote Northern Ireland’s community and voluntary sector, which has just bought 1,000 shares at £1.
The Manchester-based, Phone Co-op has invested £5,000, while other organisations to sign up include the Fermanagh Trust and Bryson Energy. All these bodies have the right to put forward their representatives for NICE Board elections.
Amanda Beard from the Phone Co-op, a telecommunications provider owned by its customers, said: ““Because the Phone Co-op knows that our activity will have an impact on our planet, we try to minimise it by being green.
"We use electricity from renewable sources, invest in renewable energy initiatives and offset our carbon footprint. The NICE initiative fits our criteria for investment and we are delighted to support it and become a member".
Nigel McKinney, Building Change Trust Director of Operations, said: “The Building Change Trust is committed to developing and testing out new forms of Social Finance and encouraging Social Innovation in Northern Ireland, and to prove this we are putting our money where our mouth is and investing in NI Community Energy.
“Seeing the success in the rest of the UK, we feel this type of community buy-in and investment could really take off and are excited to see the development of NI Community Energy, as well as the Community Shares project, throughout 2015 and beyond”.
NICE is the brainchild of a group of volunteers with a track record in renewable energy and co-operative models. They developed a community solar project that would allow them to create economies of scale, shared technical expertise, and to grow the knowledge base in Northern Ireland.
It is supported by Co-operative Alternatives, a co-operative commissioned by the Building Change Trust to increase awareness of Community Shares in Northern Ireland.
Tiziana O’Hara from Co-operative Alternatives welcomed the fact that organisations were investing NICE: “This is a positive investment for charities and trusts with an interest in environmental issues and green energy. I would appeal to other organisations to come forward and invest in a local initiative that is benefiting the community rather than on the stock market.”
More information about NICE can be found on www.nicommunityenergy.org.