AGM 2020: ECOE progresses to new horizons

AGM 2020: ECOE progresses to new horizons

Exeter Community Energy's Online AGM

Exeter Community Energy’s Online AGM

It’s typical of COVID-19 times that Exeter Community Energy had to take this year’s Annual General Meeting online. But it was a nice change from the background pandemic that the news was generally good. Our ongoing solar power generation and fuel poverty projects are doing well. As of the financial year end on January 31 2020 we were nearing installation of two new sites, which have since been completed. We are now accepting applications for loans paying 4% interest to repay our bridging loan for this project. Email Andy Extance if you’re interested in helping and don’t already have the information.

At one point the new sites looked to be our last big activity for some time. But now, new generation sites, a retrofit project, and energy literacy webinars look set to fill our agenda once more. We’ll be running the webinars starting in September – more information will follow before then.

We again set a record for grants from our community fund this year. And while the Healthy Homes for Wellbeing fuel poverty project and energy consumption at our sites have been affected by COVID-19, we are adapting to these challenges. These are just a few of the highlights from the ECOE AGM, held on July 15th. You can read the minutes here. You can also find out more about the details of the activities in the annual report and accounts. We have a recording of the AGM available for anyone who wants to watch it – please email Andy Extance if you want access.

More new faces at ECOE

In the community energy sector voluntary boards of directors and other team members change regularly. The 2019-2020 financial year at ECOE has been no exception.

Project officer Margaret Pickering joined us to run our PV sites, taking over from Alan Denbigh. Joe Clarke and Matt Bellamy both joined us as directors but also stood down again during the course of the year. Lee Cramer has replaced Vicky Vallis as finance director, and will be supported by book-keeper Fiona Sylvester. Rory McNeile joins us as a director. He is focussing primarily on establishing a green retrofit service to offer to homeowners who want to boost their home’s efficiency. We continue rotating the chair role around the board on a yearly basis, with Andy Extance now taking over from Tara Bowers.

Tara has taken over as Healthy Homes for Wellbeing project manager from Gill Wyatt, who continues as a Home Energy Advisor. We have also appointed Paul Whittall as our fifth Home Energy Advisor for Healthy Homes for Wellbeing. Healthy Homes administrator Sarah Rocke-Evans stood down this year. We start our next fuel poverty season on 1st August, when two more additional Home Energy Advisors will join us, as another moves on

Finances on track

Operationally, 2019 was the third year that we have been running all nine original solar PV installations. Total generation across all sites for 2019 was 328 MWh, 5% down on 2018. That’s the equivalent of electricity provision for 81 homes for a year. Total carbon savings from solar PV in 2019 are 84 tonnes. This brings ECOE’s total carbon saving resulting from solar PV since 2016 to 447 tonnes.

ECOE’s operating profit grew to £42,323 for the year ended 31 January 2020, up from £28,692 in the year ended January 31, 2019. Our annual financial surplus grew to £22,060, up from £6,785 in the previous year. This has helped reduce ECOE’s total accumulated deficit from £39,350 to £17,290. It enables us to again pay interest to ECOE’s members at 5%. This year ECOE will put £3,500 directly into the ECOE Community Fund for projects that help save energy or help with fuel poverty, up from £3,000 last year.

We are now working towards paying out interest. If you are a member or lender please ensure your details are up to date by using the members’ login on the right hand side of our website. If you usually receive your interest by cheque, we kindly ask you to provide bank details in the members portal for direct payment instead. This helps because it costs ECOE money to produce cheques and send them out. Also, please let us know if you would like to donate your interest to our running costs or community fund by selecting the appropriate option in your member portal.

Thanks to our members and supporters!

Normally for in-person AGMs we provide food and drink to thank members for their support. As that wasn’t possible this time, we entered all the members who came and attended the whole meeting into a draw for a £50 shopping voucher. The winner was Jeff Ridley, and he has donated the prize to the Healthy Homes for Wellbeing hardship fund.