Rural Community Energy Fund

Pre-application and ongoing support for community groups

Project duration: June 2013 to June 2014

Having used up our budget, we can no longer offer RCEF application support. We're glad to have helped about a dozen community groups with their applications, including a group in Frome who have had since had their application accepted.

CSE's communities team is offering support to groups who want to apply to the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF). RCEF is a £15m funding initiative to support community groups in developing low-carbon projects in rural areas.

Are you a member of a constituted community group residing in a rural area, wanting to develop a community renewable energy project? If so, RCEF could be the opportunity you have been waiting for.

The funding provides a grant of up to £20,000 for investigating the viability of renewable energy in your area.

What do I need to know before applying?

When you are ready, you will apply to Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) – whom the Government has appointed to oversee the scheme. Before applying, you need to be able to answer ‘yes’ to these questions:

  1. Am I in a rural area?
  2. Does my group have legal entity status?
  3. Do I have a potentially viable low-carbon energy project, supported by my community?

Our 2-page guide on the fund can help you in answering the first two simple questions, and our Planning for Low Carbon Living (PlanLoCaL) suite of resources will help you in answering question 3. In particular, our renewable energy pages include guidance and exercises on checking project viability – and our ‘Getting people involved’ section provides guidance on why and how to consult with your community.

Can CSE provide further support?

Yes, we can provide limited free support to groups before applying – and further support for projects that secure funding.

We believe in empowering communities, and do not wish to carry out work that you are capable of delivering yourselves. However, sometimes having an independent energy expert on board can help steer your energy idea through to energy generation. If you are developing an RCEF project, we can support your group in:

  • Project planning, development and management.
  • Co-ordinating external professionals and community consultations (events, questionnaires and data analysis).
  • Carrying out technical assessments, or due-diligence on the work of others.
  • Advising you on using the Community Rights in the Localism Act to deliver your project, where appropriate.
  • Bespoke training courses (some examples of these are here).

Working with TLT Solicitors and Triodos Bank to provide legal support and financial advice

We work closely with TLT Solicitors and Triodos Bank. With their support, we can ensure your group’s project is legally sound and the project meets investors’ needs to raise the required capital. We ran a ‘ready for RCEF’ event with them, WRAP and other technical experts on 18 March 2014 – you can read all about it here.

Bristol based legal firm TLT can support groups in:

  • Setting up the right corporate structure
  • Securing a site, including options agreement and lease
  • Planning application negotiations and appeals, including consultant contracting
  • Reviewing debt funding finance agreements
  • Procuring construction (and operating) contracts, including feed-in tariffs and power purchase agreements

Triodos Bank’s corporate finance team are looking to support £1m of onshore wind, hydroelectricity and solar PV projects. Their expertise provides:

  • Transaction structuring and governance
  • Financial modelling and due-diligence to standards expected by commercial lenders and investors
  • Raising finance and investor engagement, whether this be via bank finance, share and bond issues or other means
  • Financial Services and Markets Act regulatory compliance

You can find further information on RCEF, including eligibility criteria and frequently asked questions, on WRAP’s website.

Image: Joe Dunckley, flickr

Relevant downloads and links:

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