Attracting potential landlords

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UK

Brighton Energy Co-operative found attracting potential landlords the hardest part of delivering their community-owned solar PV project. To find a site, they drew up a target list of buildings they thought would have large, good-quality roofs. Using their local contacts and the mailing list, they also solicited from the public: did anyone know any roofs? At the same time they set to work on writing the lease agreement that would be signed between Brighton Energy Co-operative and the sites. This was a significant piece of work: a fifty-page legal document that would form the basis of the relationship between the two parties for twenty years. The group heard that a London solicitors – Reed Smith – allocated a percentage of their profits to pro bono work, and were successful in applying for their assistance. After intensive questioning of the team, Reed Smith wrote the lease agreement, framing their needs within legal terminology. They then began discussions with various organisations. It became increasingly obvious, however, that some organisations are better at making decisions than others. Those organisations with a community-minded focus proved the most amenable, but in total they contacted more than fifty building-owners. After eight months three had signed the lease, representing a conversion rate of one in every seventeen prospects. The three organisations included two churches and a local port. St George's Church in Kemptown was the first: the local vicar, Father Andrew, understood the pressing need for renewable energy, and appreciated the idea of involving the community in its rollout. The second – City Coast Church in Portslade – felt a similar way. Finally, Shoreham Port liked the idea too. As a trust Port, Shoreham has a responsibility that goes beyond fiduciary – it is also required to engage and benefit the local community when carrying out its activities.

Source: Community-Led Photovoltaic Initiatives action pack