Annual General Meeting
24th February, 2018
M I N U T E S
Present: 38 members and 1 new volunteer.
Apologies received from: 35 members and one non-member.
David Berry, a board adviser, welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Minutes of last AGM and matters arising
The minutes of last year’s AGM were accepted as a true record. Emma Bridge asked for an amendment to be made on page 2 at the end of the Accounts section. She made a contribution about audit, but this was in a personal capacity and NOT as the Chief Executive of Community Energy England.
Richard Collins reminded everyone about our purpose and aims. He then took us through the highlights of what we have done since the last AGM: the second share offer and the installation of our fourth PV scheme at Lembas. Scheme 5 was halted due to issues out of our control, which was disappointing. We are now developing relationships with new partners. He also gave an overview of how schemes are generating. Paces has performed very well. Swinton generates more electricity than they need, but we are now able to export the extra electricity to the grid. South Yorkshire Police scheme is doing very well. Lembas is a slightly smaller scheme, but with better modelling it means we could ensure that they use most of what is produced. We are very pleased with how this scheme is performing.
Other work has included work with Reach Homes to monitor use of solar PV with a battery. We are in discussion with South Yorkshire Police, owners of student accommodation and possibly three GP surgeries.
We are now more able to match schemes with their electricity usage. As the Feed in Tariff decreases new schemes are liable to be smaller.
We need to replenish board members who have left and we have to ensure that the organisation is viable.
Richard’s presentation can be found on our website.
We were asked why is it not better to produce as much electricity as possible. Richard explained that the income we receive if we export spare electricity to the grid is half what we would receive if we sell the electricity to the owner of the building, but the scheme would cost a lot more to install. He also explained, in answer to a question about the Feed in Tariff reduction, that we are looking at a new business model for when the Feed in Tariff disappears altogether.
We were asked some technical questions about inverters that Richard and David answered.
We were asked why we cannot sell the excess electricity to other buildings. Currently the regulatory framework does not allow us to to sell on electricity away from the building where the solar panels are installed.
We were asked how long solar panels last for. Our projects end after 20 years, but the panels should continue to generate electricity for much longer than this. The inverters last for 10 years and we are building up reserves to buy new ones
Question about batteries. This is fairly new technology and it is too early for us to think about this.
Richard took us through the main points of the accounts. There were no questions and the Accounts were accepted. The meeting agreed that we will not require an audit.
Capital and Interest Payments
Richard explained about A shares and B shares. When B shares mature in a couple of years’ time we hope to integrate the two lots of shares.
Jean explained the difficulties she experienced last year in contacting members about their interest payments. As a result a new procedure was agreed for the future. We will contact all members by their preferred method (email or post) in April. If no reply is received we will contact members again in July. Interest payments will be made in May and August only.
Richard took us through the figures for deciding the amount to be paid out this year. There is £23,343 available. This will allow for capital repayment of £14,583, £5626 for interest payments at 3% and £3,134 for the Community Benefit Fund. This was agreed by the meeting.
Richard then took us through the possible use of the Community Benefit Fund (CBF). Last year it was agreed to split the CBF between local and overseas donations. We received a very impressive report from South Yorkshire Energy Centre on how they had spent the £3,000 donation last year. After a short discussion it was agreed this year to give £2,800 to South Yorkshire Energy Centre and £334 to Trine, an organisation working to provide clean energy. At the moment they are raising funds for a project in Kenya. It was suggested that next year we try to involve members more in making suggestions about how we spend the CBF. One suggestion to be considered for next year was Sheffield CAB.
We are still aiming to generate half a megawatt of electricity. We are continuing to work on the financial model as a result of the drop in the feed-in-tariff, but also a decrease in the cost of panels. We have far more certainty on the expected electricity generation. We are looking at ways of affording a paid employee as this would speed up our work. We hope that partners would provide a pipeline of projects, e.g. doctors’ surgeries. Interest has been shown by three GP practices, one is very well progressed – it would be 20/30kW scheme. South Yorkshire Police are pleased with the scheme at Attercliffe and have also paid for some PV schemes themselves. They have asked us to look at other possible joint projects, possibly in 2019 – we would need fresh capital for this. There is also the possibility of working with owners of student accommodation, but the savings we can offer them are not huge.
We were asked whether we could go back to existing schemes and look at optimisation. The answer was ‘probably not’.
Election of Board
Two long-standing directors are standing down this year: Steve Barnard and Julia Carrell. They were both thanked for their years of work with Sheffield Renewables.
Kiro Tamer, who had hoped to join us as treasurer has since moved to London. He was thanked for his work.
Paul Cocker and Christine Gilligan stood for re-election and were duly elected. The rest of the board: Keith Alford, Richard Collins, Abigail Hathway, Karthik Suresh and Luke Wilson will continue in office.
Members were asked to consider joining the board, but no interest was shown at the meeting.
Thanks were expressed by the members to those who run the organisation.