The MP and MSP for the Western Isles have backed a fundraising campaign to build a community-owned wind farm in North Uist, which aims to generate more than £105,000 a year for investment in good causes. UistWind, being driven by North Uist Development Company (Trading), is in the final stages of raising the money the community needs to put towards its development of two 900kW turbines at Criongrabhal, near Clachan-na-Luib.
It needs to raise at least £350,000 by the end of the year and last night launched a Crowdfunder ap-peal, in addition to an existing Community Share Offer, in a bid to close the gap. With the current total raised standing at £332,550, Angus Brendan MacNeil and Alasdair Allan are urging anyone interested in financially supporting the project – wherever they may live – to do so without delay.
Angus Brendan MacNeil, Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, said: “North Uist Development Company have worked tirelessly to bring this vital community wind project to this stage. “They have faced many hurdles along the way but have never given up and remained committed to bringing this project to fruition. “I have supported NUDC for several years in attempting to overcome difficulties with the Ministry of Defence in relation to the wind project. The project has the potential to raise a significant and sustainable amount of money for future investment in projects and services for North Uist.
“To ensure this vital project goes ahead, there needs to be a final push for funding to meet the target of the Community Share Offer. I would urge people across the islands to support the project and help to shape a sustainable and positive future for North Uist and allow them to benefit from a community wind project as has been the case in other parts of the Hebrides.”
Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP, said it was “really encouraging” to see the progress North Uist Development Company had made so far. “These wind turbine plans are a positive, locally-driven initiative which have the potential to bring significant investment and revenue into the local economy.
“I hope as many people as possible will help to get them over the final hurdle and contribute to their crowdfunding efforts.” The UistWind project aims to create £2.33million for the community over the project’s projected lifespan of 22 years, with the profits going straight back to the community via North Uist Develop-ment Company’s charitable activities.
The 1.8MW project will cost around £3.5million and most of the finance is expected to be covered by a commercial loan of £2.5million from Triodos Bank – a specialist in community renewable en-ergy finance – with a secondary loan of £650,000 from the Energy Investment Fund. Although it could be possible to restructure the financial package if the community is unable to raise its target of £350,000, that would mean bigger bank loans and a much smaller return to the community – virtually wiping out any profit for 10 years.
UistWind has full planning permission and a licence to sell its electricity to the National Grid. There is also space reserved on the current cable for its power to be exported to the mainland.
Construction is due to begin on the project at the end of January 2019 and be completed by the end of July 2019. Contracts are currently being negotiated and fundraising has been allowed to continue to the year end because the bank agreed to a ‘compressed construction programme’. The share offer and crowdfunding campaign will both remain open until financial close on 31 De-cember 2018. The Crowdfunder appeal is at https://crowdfunder.co.uk/uistwind and will accept donations of any sum towards the campaign. It also offers ‘rewards’ as incentives for certain sizes of donation.
These begin at £250 and £500 for cards and artworks and go up to business sponsorship levels of £10,000, £15,000, £25,000 and £50,000 – for which a business can name a turbine and cut the rib-bon at the opening event. Visit the page for more details.
Community shares can be purchased starting from £250 and go up in £50 increments.
Benefits to investors include a target rate of 4 per cent return on investment and a right to partici-pate in the decision-making of North Uist Development Company (Trading).
To invest in UistWind, and for more detail on investor benefits, visit: www.uistwind.com.
Community share offer deadline extended to 31 December 2018
An urgent plea is being made to potential investors to buy shares in a small community wind farm in the Hebrides in order to help reach its fundraising target of £350,000 by the end of the year.
UistWind, a project of the North Uist Development Company (Trading), is in the final stages of raising money for its two turbines, but is facing a shortfall with only a couple of weeks to go until financial close. The Community Share Offer has been extended before, in a bid to nudge the total closer to £350,000, and UistWind is launching one last appeal, ahead of the December 31 deadline. The total raised currently stands at £323,250, with nearly £30,000 outstanding, and shares begin at £250. Investment is sought from supporters of community renewables from near and far, and benefits to investors include a target rate of four per cent return on investment and a say in how North Uist Development Company spends the money generated by the wind farm, as well as the more general benefits of having supported renewable energy creation and North Uist’s future prosperity.
The community of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides has a population of fewer than 2,000 and faces the challenges of a fragile economy and depopulation. The UistWind project aims to create £2.33million for the community over the project’s projected lifespan of 22 years, with the profits going straight back to the community via North Uist Development Company’s charitable activities. The project, for two turbines generating a total of 1.8MW at Criongrabhal, near Clachan-na-Luib, will cost around £3.5million. Most of the finance is expected to be covered by a commercial loan of £2.5million from Triodos Bank – a specialist in community renewable energy finance – with a secondary loan of £650,000 from the Energy Investment Fund. That leaves the community needing to raise £350,000. Although it could be possible to restructure the financial package if there was a shortfall in the share offer, that would mean bigger bank loans and a much smaller return to the community – virtually wiping out any profit for 10 years.
UistWind has full planning permission for its 1.8MW wind development and has a licence to sell its electricity to the National Grid. There is also space reserved for the project’s output on the cable to the mainland, to allow the export of its power. It is also, critically, the last such project in the islands to have space on the cable, which is almost at full capacity, and therefore likely to be the last development that can happen without an interconnector, or similar infrastructure upgrade. Construction is due to begin on the project at the end of January 2019 and be completed by the end of July 2019. Contracts are currently being negotiated and North Uist Development Company (Trading) has been able to keep its share offer open until December 31 because the bank agreed to a ‘compressed construction programme’.
Ameena Camps, one of the Local Development Officers with North Uist Development Company, said they were fortunate the bank agreed to this compressed programme but stressed: “We really need to get everyone to help us reach the minimum target”. She said: “The financial model shows that without the £350,000 there is very little community benefit funds available for the first 10 years. We really need it to maximise the community benefit.” Mustapha Hocine, Chair of the North Uist Development Company, said: “It’s been years and years of work and struggle but hopefully we can see the light at the end of the tunnel – it’s just a question of that final push to get there. Although we can see it, we’re not there yet.” There was excitement, too, about what the future held. “In general, there is a good positive feeling amongst the people involved. There is the excitement of what’s lying on the other side, once it is finalised – what we’ll be able to deliver to the community. It will contribute to the race against the depopulation and keep the youngsters on the island by creating opportunities to support future generations.” The benefits, he said, have already began with the engagement of local contractors for ground-works. However, he stressed time was running out and the project still needed support.
“People need to understand, that although we’ve extended the Share Offer a few times, this is the final push. I would like to thank the community for their continuing support over the years and hopefully they will rally behind us again.”
Murdo Murray, Local Energy Scotland’s Development Officer for the Western Isles and Skye, said the UistWind project had experienced “a lot of difficulty over the years” and the many challenges they had overcome meant there was “more at stake with this project that just the finance”.
Mr Murray, former Director of Technical Services with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, also said the project would be the last renewable development in the Outer Hebrides to be built with Feed-In-Tariff support, which provides a cost-based price for the electricity supplied. And, “In terms of projects that are up and running, North Uist is the last with a grid connection.” After that, there will only be around 3.5KW available on the cable. “That won’t even power a 5KW domestic turbine, so the Grid is basically at capacity. Anybody that wants to do anything from now on, needs an interconnector. UistWind is unique in a sense. It’s the last of a generation that was able to get grid connected, so let’s hope that it becomes successful. “Getting it through financial close is the biggest hurdle. We’re hoping that it will work out. I would really love to see this project across the line. That’s my aim before Christmas!”
To invest in the project click: BUY A SHARE IN OUR FUTURE
Photo: Traigh Ear, Grenitote, North Uist (Stephen Carter)