Community energy in London is a growing field – but it’s also a challenging one. Small, local, largely voluntary organisations are trying to reform an industry dominated by powerful corporations.
en10ergy was one of the earliest community energy generators in London, but there are now many others, all with the same ideal of benefitting the world as a whole by working to benefit their own localities. These organisations are establishing firm connections amongst themselves, and with city and borough authorities, and are becoming a strong force for change.
Our status and aims
en10ergy was set up by Muswell Hill Sustainability Group in 2009 with the following aims: to install renewable energy in Muswell Hill and surrounding areas, to raise awareness of climate change issues and to encourage local residents to take action. It was originally established as an Industrial and Provident Society in 2009, but is now, under new legislation, defined as a Registered Society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014.
At its birth, en10ergy raised money from grants and the sale of community shares to install solar panels on the roofs Marks & Spencer in Muswell Hill Broadway (operating since 2010) and the Methodist Church in Pages Lane (operating since 2011). At that time, grants available from central and local government covered much of the cost, but a small offer of Community Shares was also made to raise more funds, and establish a suitable body (en10ergy: a social enterprise) to manage the projects. The membership of en10ergy created by this offer is over 100 shareholders, mostly based in Muswell Hill and surrounding areas.
Mainly, en10ergy generates income through the Feed In Tariff from our solar roofs. This is spent on local community benefit initiatives, in accordance with our constitution, including: energy efficiency workshops, green open home weekends, provision of low cost energy-saving equipment, and the furthering of projects to actively generate renewable power. We promote local installers of energy efficient measures and work alongside Haringey Council, with whom we have a history of successful collaboration. We also provide the funds for Muswell Hill Sustainability Group to employ a professional organiser to co-ordinate the above outreach activities.
Membership and shares
People become members of en10ergy by buying shares in it. The shares offered when en10ergy was founded bore no interest, and had no repayment period. Owners of these shares remain members until they withdraw them all by selling them back to en10ergy. From the summer of 2017 there will be another class of share, which pays interest for a specified period. Holders of the latter shares are members for the period during which they receive interest, after which en10ergy has, in effect, bought the shares back, and the shareholder ceases to be a member. Should they wish to continue in membership, they must buy one or more of the non-interest-bearing shares. Both forms of share are Community Shares. These are not tradable and not protected under the compensation arrangements of the Financial Conduct Authority. They are sold purely for the purpose of raising capital for projects of benefit to the community, and the amount of interest payable on them is limited to that necessary to raise the capital in the first place. The conditions under which they are sold and held are set out in the rules of the Society.
Holders of both kinds of share are equal members of the Society for as long as they have some shares. All members have one equal vote in en10ergy’s affairs, at annual general meetings or extraordinary general meetings, regardless of the number or type of shares they hold. Members have the right to scrutinise the management of the society and to propose and approve the projects it undertakes.