Gentoo announces Solar Power Investment Scheme
Published by LauraMcKinlay for Gentoo Group in Environment and also in Bill Payments, Care and Support, Communities
Social business Gentoo Group has signed a deal with social enterprise Empower Community in a bid to provide more customers’ homes with solar energy by refinancing existing solar panels. The deal will allow the roll out of PV panels to an additional 1500 - 3000 homes and provide solid financial returns for the investor with measurable social and environmental impact.
Empower Community, structured and arranged the £10.1million deal in which a large institutional pension investor will acquire the Gentoo’s existing solar photovoltaic installations on 2327 Gentoo homes and 6 corporate buildings.
The deal means that Gentoo has received a lump sum to reinvest into providing solar energy to more customers, reducing the risk of fuel poverty and delivering innovative solar solutions to additional customers. The additional benefit of this scheme is that surplus profits from the deal will be reinvested into the local community.
Empower Community Management’s Alex Grayson says: “The beauty of this deal is that everybody’s interests are aligned: the investor makes solid financial returns, with measurable social and environmental impact; tenants enjoy access to free daytime power, which helps them escape fuel poverty; Gentoo enjoys an ongoing return and financing to continue their exciting developments and the community receives funding for local initiatives from the profits.”
These changes will not affect the electricity customers receive nor will they affect the maintenance of the PV system. Customers will continue to receive free day time electricity generated by the PV system and any maintenance of the PV system will continue to be carried out by Gentoo.
Washington couple and Gentoo customers Victor and Joyce Cowie have previously had PV panels fitted to their home. Victor said: “We are delighted with the work that has been done to our home. We know people who’ve had PV panels fitted so sought lots of advice beforehand. The potential cost savings were a big enough incentive for us to take up the offer considering the amount of money we should save on our energy bill.”
Peter Walls, Chief Executive, Gentoo Group said: “We’re always looking for new ways to make a positive difference and influence change - this innovative deal with Empower Community does just that. Fuel poverty is a genuine concern with rising energy costs – ‘heat or eat’ is a reality that many vulnerable individuals in our society are now facing. This is a unique way to deliver more solar solutions to our customers, at no cost, with the additional benefits that the local community fund will bring.”
Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said: “The benefits of this project are threefold; tenants get access to free daytime power, the housing association gets the finance to install solar panels in more social housing and the profits of the deal are reinvested back into the community.
“The £100,000 worth of support from our Investment and Contract Readiness Fund has enabled this impressive organisation to go on and raise over 10m through a bond. I look forward to seeing this model replicated across the country with housing associations, schools and hospitals all benefiting from access to free day time energy.”
Social Finance, the leading social investment intermediary, advised Empower Community and placed the deal. Martin Rich, Sales Director, said: “This is the first large-scale, socially-focused investment into solar energy for social housing. We are delighted that institutional investors can see the value of investing for social good whilst still achieving market rate returns.”
If any Gentoo customers have any questions they should contact the Gentoo Green admin team on 0191 525 5000.
Gentoo Group’s whole ethos is about believing nothing is impossible and finding new ways to challenge conventions, Gentoo aims to make society a better place to live and to make a real difference to the way people live their life. To find out more about Gentoo, visit gentoogroup.com for more information or follow @gentoogroup on Twitter.