Council is working toward Australia's first community/council solar farm

Lismore City Council and Farming the Sun launched the Lismore Community Solar initiative in May 2013. The goal is to establish a council/community solar farm in Lismore – potentially the first of its kind in Australia.

Since then in-depth investigation has gone into suitable sites and suitable financial models to get the solar farm up and running. The initial concept was to have a 250kW solar system owned by the community, with Council agreeing to buy back the power over a decade or more. However, obstacles such as difficulties with sharing power across Council sites and the uncertainty of federal renewable energy policy has led to a change in thinking. It has become clear that two smaller-scale projects will be more viable and the financial model would be in the form of a community loan rather than a power purchase agreement.

The Lismore Community Solar investment structure is now based on two community companies, each with 20 shareholders, lending funds to Lismore City Council. The loans will be used to construct and operate two 100kW solar farms at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.

Investors would be asked to purchase shares between $8000 and $9000 with a four per cent per annum return and a pay-back period including up-front capital of seven years.

Farming the Sun has launched an investor pledge campaign to attract 40 investors to buy shares in Lismore Community Solar. The event was well attended and there are already more than 101 pledges.

More people are encouraged to sign up as it’s ideal to have a large pool of potential investors to draw from.

Council adopted the financial business model at its meeting of 13 October 2015. A prospectus is now being prepared by Farming the Sun for share offers.

Investors can pledge online at farmingthesun.net/lismore. People can also sign up over the phone with Lismore Community Solar Coordinator Susanna Carpi on 0401 956 710 or email susanna@farmingthesun.net.

You can also Subscribe to the Farming the Sun Newsletter and be kept up to date with project developments and information.

Image: The Lismore Community Solar investor pledge launch held in Lismore on 11 June.
 

Disclaimer: Lismore City Council (Council) is not in a financial partnership or joint venture with Starfish Enterprises Network Ltd, Farming the Sun or any other associated entity or organisation. Council's role in this initiative is as borrower of funds and as the entity that owns and constructs the solar farms.

Council does not guarantee the appropriateness of any investment in this initiative. The material provided by Council about the initiative is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice. If you are considering investing in this initiative, you should obtain advice from a suitably qualified advisor. You should obtain and review a Product Disclosure Statement or Prospectus before making any decision to invest.