The UK’s first ISA-eligible community energy bonds go live on Mongoose Crowd offering Bath and Bristol investors cleaner energy, tax-free financial returns, and better social dividends
To mark ‘Community Energy Fortnight’, the UK’s first dedicated community energy crowdfunding platform – Mongoose Crowd – has launched its first green energy bonds offers to investors. This is the first time UK investors will be able to buy community energy bonds in a tax-free Individual Savings Account (ISA) wrapper.
The two initial bond offerings this week total over £2 million and endorse Mongoose Crowd’s innovative market entry last week. Both bond offers will support the refinancing of a portfolio of solar projects near Bath and Bristol to enable community groups to develop other clean energy projects in the region.
The first offer is from a well-established community business set up in 2010, Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) – one of the leading community energy enterprises in the country and a founding shareholder in Mongoose Energy. BWCE’s bond offer has been highly anticipated because of its eligibility for the new tax free Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA). The solar projects BWCE is looking to re-finance were built in December 2011 with a loan from SSE and are proven projects that have performed above expectations since. As the interest on the loan rises this year, re-financing will increase the surplus available for community benefit and offer an opportunity to widen participation further by replacing commercial debt with people powered investment. Raising funds now will also provide BWCE with a small fund to invest in new renewable energy projects as they are developed.
Peter Capener, Executive Director, Bath & West Community Energy said: “We are very excited about being able to offer the UK’s first ISA-eligible community energy bond on Mongoose Crowd. The commitment and enthusiastic support from our members and bondholders has been the foundation for our success to date. We hope that even more people will want to get involved in helping us build a powerful community response to our energy needs that makes sound sense for people’s pockets and for the planet.”
Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC) is also launching a new highly anticipated bond offer this week. The bonds are eligible to be invested through the Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) and will be used to fund the first ever community-owned battery storage project incorporating the latest Tesla battery technology. Additional funds will be used to reduce current borrowing costs and repay short term loan facilities.
Andy O’Brien, Director, Bristol Energy Cooperative said: “Following the success of our fund raise last year and the enormous popularity of our community owned schemes, we are delighted to launch our second bond offer using the unique Mongoose platform. As well as repaying previous loans, our new crowdfund will deliver our ambitions for increased generation of community-owned energy. We are also developing a number of innovative new energy schemes both renewable energy generation and storage, including the installation of a 100kW Tesla battery at a new sustainable housing site. Back in 2016, people were responsive to the opportunity to increase community-owned energy assets; our new bond offer provides another chance to join us as we continue our energy revolution for all.”
Mongoose Crowd was launched earlier this month by Mongoose Energy and connects its investors with UK community energy projects that target better financial returns, lower environmental impacts and positive social dividends. Launching its own crowdfunding platform will enable Mongoose to attract a wider group of new and existing UK investors to its projects, allowing them to:
- Join a growing community of impact investors taking control of where to invest their capital
- Invest in community energy on an investment platform built by communities for communities
- Invest directly into bonds that finance local renewable energy projects and cut UK emissions
- Invest up to £20,000 a year in renewable energy projects via a tax-free ISA wrapper
Until recently, Mongoose Energy raised money for community projects on third-party platforms, but believes hosting its own crowdfunding platform will make it easier to innovate and grow: offering more investors a wider portfolio of projects to invest in and target returns that are expected to beat the interest a typical savings account will offer.
Mark Kenber, recently appointed Chief Executive of Mongoose Energy, said: “Mongoose Crowd gives people more power over their own savings and their local energy supply as well as doing their bit for their local communities. Bath and Bristol have pioneered much innovation in UK community energy and our new crowdfunding platform is making investments in clean community energy easier, more profitable and more democratic. Investing cash in community energy projects also drives valuable local jobs and benefits.”
Mongoose Crowd aims to attract small investors frustrated by low interest rates on their savings, volatility in equity markets and current financial market uncertainty. It will fund a variety of community energy projects including solar, wind, hydro, battery installations and smart energy innovations.
Community renewable energy projects are increasingly competitive without subsidy although existing projects still benefit from inflation-linked, long-term government subsidies such as FITs and ROCs that complement the sale of energy to the grid. Consequently, this type of asset investment offers long-term, inflation-linked returns. These investment opportunities are Innovative Finance ISA-eligible and Mongoose Crowd Ltd is an appointed representative of Share In Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Since 2015, Mongoose Energy has raised more than £70 million in capital to finance the construction and management of 60 MW of community owned solar PV projects, generating enough renewable electricity to power over 18,000 homes. Typically, investors have received 4.5-7% return on their investments depending on the performance of their project. Over their 20-year lifetime, the projects in the portfolio are projected to deliver millions back to local community benefit societies to be used to create local jobs for local people, reducing energy costs in local community buildings like schools, helping people out of energy poverty, and biodiversity.
Investors wanting to find out more about these and other investment opportunities in UK community energy can register at www.mongoosecrowd.co.uk
 Based on Ofgem figures for UK average domestic electricity consumption.