Islay Community Wind Project Going Strong

The Islay Community Wind Project is at the forefront of a growing trend in social investment. Islay is set to join a group of Scottish island communities including Gigha, Mull, Tiree, Barra, South Uist and Westray, all of which are establishing a more sustainable, socio-economic future through the exploitation of renewable energy resources using local enterprise. Community projects on some of these islands are already generating hundreds of thousands of pounds of profits every year. What makes the Islay Project different is that it will be one of the first community-owned wind projects in Scotland to be part-financed through a community benefit society share offer.

On Tuesday 14th January, the Islay Energy Community Benefit Society was launched. The Society’s objective is to raise up to £750k to finance a 330kW community wind turbine. Around 40 members of the Islay community attended, and were given a presentation about community benefit societies and the proposed finance plan for the community wind turbine by Jenni Minto, Secretary of IECBS. This was followed by a lively question and answer session, and Lindy MacLellan completed the evening by describing how the community benefit fund could be allocated. Continue reading...

When operational, the project is expected to earn up to £80k per year for the communities of Islay, Jura and Colonsay. This will be invested back into the communities supporting other renewable projects, providing relief from fuel poverty and awarding grants to local voluntary and charitable organisations. Each investor has one vote as a member of IECBS, irrespective of the sum invested; the maximum investment allowed is £20,000, and for IECBS, the minimum is £200. The Board of IECBS will set a rate of interest (currently estimated at 4-5%) for investors.

The total cost of the project is £1.2m. In addition to the IECBS share launch, applications have been made to the Big Lottery for £180,000 to cover the costs of grid upgrades, and to the Scottish Government’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund for any additional funding needed after the share offer closes on 31st March. Since the launch on 14th January, IECBS has raised over £250,000, which is a fantastic result so far. Anyone can buy shares, but if the target of £750,000 is exceeded, priority would be given to residents and property owners on Islay, Jura and Colonsay.

Jenni Minto, Secretary of IECBS, said: “We have now reached a significant milestone after 5 years of determined, patient and resilient development work by the Islay Energy Trust (IET). The share offer is an exciting opportunity for the many people who know and love the islands of Islay, Jura and Colonsay to make a social investment in a locally-owned project which will generate benefits for these communities. The more money raised through the share offer, the less that will have to be borrowed from the banks.”

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