We need another £27,000 by Friday to get that dial finally to the end. If everybody who has ‘sort of promised’ to invest does so, we’ll make it – please do chivvy if you know anyone who is wavering. They need to get applications cheques written and sent – we’ll even collect applications if they are in Herefordshire or somewhere we have friends (including London) – there’s even a nice new way of applying online at microgenius for the post phobic!
We’ve had a great week, adding 14 new prospective members and taking us to 73% of the total. Thanks to all the people who have applied for membership and all who have featured the project on their websites, especially our fellow co-ops who also have share offers on the go: Sheffield Renewables, Drumlin Wind, Brixton Energy. We’ve had a boost from Jesse Norman MP, founder of the Conservative Co-operative Movement and Herefordshire MP, who coincidentally became our 100th applicant. Finally we’re one of the two first co-op share offers to be featured on microgenius – a new website which publicises co-op share offers and which has already helped 6 people find us and join up. 10 days left, please tell your friends!
Those who follow our share offer carefully will notice that our dial is starting to kick noticeably upward towards the finish line with just over 2 weeks to go. We’ve had some significant contributions in the last week or so – thanks to everybody, keep them coming. At the same time we have been able to reduce the overall target significantly due to negotiations which have been ongoing during the share offer period. Firstly, we have been able to agree a 3 year woodchip supply contract on good terms with our supplier. Our initial share offer target included £30,000 to pay up-front for woodchip which we therefore no longer need. We also made provision for a large contingency on top of the cost of the boiler installation. As we get nearer to actually installing, we are finding ways of reducing those uncertainties, so we’ve reduced our contingency fund requirement considerably. In all we have shaved around £50,000 off the overall cost of the project bring our target to £275,000 while still keeping a good margin in case of the unexpected. This is great news for the project as it means we are that much nearer to raising the funds we need and getting the installation going. It’s also good for members as it looks like it will increase returns somewhat in the early years and perhaps overall. Hopefully new members will be persuaded to come and join us – and some existing applicants have already increased their investment – the target may be lower, but we still have to get there!
Note that in order to make sure that we strictly comply with the terms of our share offer document, we will be seeking members approval at the end of the share offer period to proceed with the lower amount – we’d be surprised if anybody objected, however!
Today we started the process of pre-ordering the boiler to make sure that everything’s ready for installation as soon as possible after the share offer concludes. We can’t pay a deposit until that point, but somewhere in Austria the manufacturer is getting their tools together to build our first boiler – an exciting moment.
Meanwhile the share dial is moving upwards again, although summer-break slowly! We are absolutely committed to have as many members as possible and spread out the ownership and benefits of the project. If you have already applied for shares, now is a good time to make sure anyone you know who may want some gets their application in. If you’ve not got a copy of our share offer document yet, please send us your details and we’ll get one out in the post, or download it from this website. If you are still mulling it over, it would definitely give us a big lift if you were to take the plunge soon.
Despite the late start in promoting our share offer, we managed to get halfway to our target in 5 weeks, raising £153,400 so far from 87 prospective members – already a new record for a Sharenergy project despite competition from some other big co-op share offers out there. As we’ve had such a good response we have decided to extend the share offer as provided for in the share offer document. August is perhaps not the best month to be promoting anything so we’re going to extend until the end of September – midnight on 28 September 2012 to be exact. In the interim we are arranging bridging finance so we can get on with our first install as soon as possible – and before it gets really cold! We’re afraid that existing applicants will now have to wait a little longer for their share certificates – and those who have kindly lent us development funds will have to wait a bit longer for repayment, although many of them have simply opted to have their loan repayment recycled into shares – thank you.
The share offer continues to have a huge amount of interest – over £24,000 worth of investment today! We’ll definitely be extending the share offer period so that more people have a chance to join the 76 prospective members we have so far. The exact timing and terms will be decided at the next Board meeting on Wednesday – in the interim we are of course still accepting applications – and existing members can increase share application amount if desired.
After a very slow start membership applications are starting to come in thick and fast. There is one week to go until the deadline. We want to get on with the installation as soon as possible – so if anybody’s still thinking about it, please send in your forms by Friday and join us.
We’re sure his boss would approve of this type of tax-efficient investment!
Ben Dodd and Jon Halle represented Woolhope Woodheat at DECC’s day for winners of LEAF funding (which we used to set up our share offer). We had an interesting chat with the Minister Greg Barker. In between tough questions about DECC’s handling of the RHI and FiTS we also learnt that he has been involved in a wood heat scheme near his constituency of Bexhill. We gave him a copy of the share offer document and no doubt he’s passed it round the Cabinet.
We were featured in a very good piece in the Guardian today with a nice picture of Steve Dudhill harvesting wood with his working horse. The piece also highlighted share offers from other co-ops around the country.
Meanwhile share applications are starting to come in more regularly – we’ll be publishing a real-time share offer meter on the site soon – hopefully not everybody will leave it to the last minute! We’re getting applications from all across the country – we’re delighted so many people are taking an interest in our project which we think is the first of its kind to tackle the vital issue of renewable heat.
Woolhope Woodheat’s share offer is now up and running, with applications (and cheques) coming in from prospective members. Lots of local interest, we’ve been on BBC radio, in the Ross Gazette… and going national this week. We think this co-op is unique in the way it ties together green energy with rescuing woodland from neglect – please feel free to tell everyone you know about us!