York Community Energy

An energetic AGM

Last week was our second ever AGM. If you couldn’t make it – well, it was a pretty packed agenda!

We asked members to arrive at 7pm for the business meeting section. We got the basics over and done with pretty quickly: the treasurer’s report on our modest finances and the election of our management committee.

New faces on the management committee

We bid a grateful farewell to two committee members who stood down: Kit Bennett and Ele Rogers. Kit stood down as Vice-Chair to concentrate on his role as Chair of Frack Free York, as it steps up its activities in the light of the recent planning approval for fracking nearby in Kirby Misperton. Ele Rogers stood down as Secretary, following her recent move to London, and we welcome new Secretary Elizabeth Crossley – read more about her on the Management Committee page. So, yes, this means we are short one Vice Chair – if you would like to fill the role, get in touch!

New membership plans

With the business obligations out of the way, we took advantage of the remainder of this section to open up a discussion with members about our membership section. We’re always grateful for the advice, guidance and involvement of our members. We took the decision to raise the lifetime membership from £1 to £2 (the minimum amount we can actually take online through the BT MyDonate system), and to instigate a Supportership scheme, with a recurring annual payment. We will be firming up the offer for this at the next committee meeting – perhaps one of our fetching and distinctive blue t-shirts? Watch this space.

The Main Course: Our Speakers

YCE Chair Richard Lane gives a roundup of YCE's year

YCE Chair Richard Lane gives a roundup of YCE’s year

We reconvened, with bolstered numbers, for the public event part of the evening. YCE Chair Richard Lane kicked off proceedings with a roundup of YCE’s activities over the year: our transition from the wind turbine projects to the Solar City Farm, our conference and study tour, and a brief outline of the various conferences, networking and campaigning events we’ve attended (including, of course, COP21 in Paris). We have given talks to various groups throughout the year about community energy and renewable energy in general – get in touch if such a talk might be useful to you or your organisation.

David Mann tells us about Linton Hydro

David Mann tells us about Linton Hydro

Then we were on to our guest speakers. David Mann of MannPower Hydro and a team from Triodos Renewables gave us an outline of the impressive hydropower scheme currently being developed at Linton Lock. Linton Hydro will be building a 280kW Archimedes screw generator, alongside an existing 100kW system. They will also be restoring and improving an historic fish pass to help migrating salmon, trout, lamprey and eels, as well as building a canoeing facility. The scheme will cost a total of £2.5m – at the time of writing they have already raised £1.4m through a 7.5% bond issue. Minimum investment in the scheme is £2,000 but a lower minimum applies to local residents and members of local community energy groups (like YCE). Read more about the bond issue on the Triodos site (nb: this is not investment advice).

Dr Richard Dixon from Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative

Dr Richard Dixon from Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative

Our ‘headline act’ was Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland and chair of Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative. We met Richard at COP21, participating in an FoE stunt promoting community energy outside the main negotiating hall. Richard told us the story of how ECSC had developed over six years to the point where following a successful £1.4m share issue, they are even now installing solar arrays on 25 council-owned buildings across the city. It was reassuring to hear how the process had taken six years, and involved many failed initiatives before reaching their current breakthrough. Our experience is not at all uncommon in the field of community energy, but Richard’s message was that with perseverance, enthusiasm and determination, it will happen.

So – a hugely successful and useful AGM, at which we learned as much as anyone, as usual. Thanks to stalwart YCE member Anthony Day for his chairing of the event, and to all who attended and participated.