My name is Jason, I’m a 35 year old software developer. I have lived in Brixton for the last nine years and love the area. I have just invested in the Brixton Energy scheme and want to tell you why – in the hope that you will too.
My previous attempt at an ethical investment
About seven years ago I had some spare money to invest and put it in an ecological stock market investment fund. I wanted to know my capital was being used for causes I believed in and to help build a sustainable future. Naturally enough, I also wanted to make a few quid! How did the fund worked out? Well as everybody knows the stock market went down the toilet. Over the last seven years my investment hasn’t even kept up with inflation.
A nagging feeling from the very beginning was that a sizeable chunk of my money went to pay the fund managers salary. I doubt they were bad people but given what we have learnt about stock market excess and bonuses. I can’t help but feel that some of my hard earned money was squandered on Champagne, cigars and class As. It felt like I was investing my money in a broken financial system that contributes to inequality and environmental destruction.
Plus I was totally disconnected from my investment. As it was an ecological fund at least I knew my money had not been given to Lockheed Martin or British Tobacco but a company like East Japan Railway doesn’t pop up much in my day to day life.
Why I am investing in Brixton Energy
This is a real way to be part of a real change for the environment. Like lots of people a couple of years ago I did lots of small things around my flat, like change light bulbs and recycling. I was left feeling a bit apathetic after that. What to do next? Brixton energy is the first scheme I have seen where I feel we can take action to tackle climate change.
I believe solar power is a technology that will create a cleaner better world. I would love to put solar panels on the roof of my flat but I don’t own my flat so I can’t.
I want to invest in a local scheme that I can be a part of, where every investor gets a vote.
I will know everytime I walk past Loughborough Estate I will have made a difference to my local community.
It is not just about solar power. The profits from the scheme will help promote energy efficiency in the area ensuring the energy we generate isn’t wasted.
What I’m doing and what I hope you will do too
So this week I closed my ecological stock market investment fund. I’m going to invest my money in Brixton Energy instead. If you are thinking about investing in an ISA or an ethical investment fund or have some money lying around please ask yourself whether Brixton Energy would be a more rewarding place to invest your money.
As the Brixton Energy Solar 1 Share Offer opened last week, people in the community began stepping forward to purchase shares. This week we embarked on sharing their personal stories with you. The first investing experience was from south London resident Susan Sheehan.
“There has been a real buzz around the office this week about the Brixton Energy share issue. Personally handing over the money and the form for my shares was strangely emotional. I have never owned shares before and it is not something I would have ever considered.
The real bonus though is that this feels completely right. I have been pondering solar panels on my own house for several years and I simply don’t have the right roof. It would also cost me a lot more money than I have put into Brixton Energy – the minimum investment is just £250. I would have to spend 40 times that to get any meaningful amount of solar panels on my house.
I have also raised money in my community to put solar panels on the school roof – and although I have an enormous sense of pride about that I don’t actually have much of a connection with them any more – they just sit there. I don’t know how they are performing, how much carbon they are offsetting… nothing. They just look nice.
I feel excited that this is just the beginning – setting up this project has been extremely complex – the real value comes from getting this one done and being able to move quickly on to the next.. Perhaps more solar panels for my local school’s roof.” warm regards, Sue
If you have invested and would like to share your story we at Brixton Energy would enjoy hearing about it.
After days, weeks, months…. & many long nights, the Share Offer is done!
And its all thanks to our amazing volunteers!!!!
While some of our volunteers are high flying business executives, the majority are either average people struggling or even unemployed. Regardless of their current welfare, all have brought and continue to bring many gifts! We have a diverse range of expertise beyond the normal wash, clean, cook, garden and feed, we have; energy efficiency, renewable energy, research, legal, project management, journalism, engineering, web development, communications, grant writing, finance and business development. But most importantly, we can boast enthusiasm, and the courage to attempt courteous group dialogue around really hard issues of social welfare.
Brixton Energy Solar 1 is a true community project infused with co-operation, hard work and a year of dedication. Help us make BrixtonEnergy a shining example of inner city community resilience for the next 25 years.
“How do I do it?” you ask us? Please read through our Share Offer and invest £250- £20,000. If £250 is out of your range why not get a bunch of friends together and chip in. Just designate one of yourselves to be the share holding member. And conversely if 20,000 is no skin off your back please consider allocate your annual share payment fully to our Community Energy Efficiency fund.
Team BrixtonEnergy Solar 1
Power to the people by the people
As we get ever closer to the launch of our Share Offer, the excitement and sense of achievement increases.
And it is an achievement!
Yes we had between us a huge amount of knowledge and expertise, but over the last few months we have had to talk with a huge number of different people and come to grips with a whole lot of other areas such as co-operative bank accounts, VAT, the planning process, the uncertainty around FITs for community energy projects, leases, contracts and excursions into the PR world. One member noted when she joined the group about 6 weeks after being made redundant she was very pleased with the affirming group she had become apart of. “Everyone is so positive and each new unforeseen difficulty or new situation has been greeted by a ‘can do’ attitude from at least one member of the group offering information or ideas as to where we can seek advice.”
We meet once a week (in a variety of Brixton pubs) and the meetings are always lively and productive. The majority of us are there because of a combination of wanting to find solutions to producing energy post oil and fossil fuels running out and also and, perhaps more importantly, wanting to take control of how we produce some of our energy away from the big energy companies and back into the hands of the community.
Becky Payne Brixton Energy Solar 1 official Secretary noted, “This has been a great learning experience in all manner of ways and from here we can move on to install yet more panels on Brixton roofs. I for one will be making an investment and hopefully, not just in Brixton Energy Solar 1, but in Brixton Energy Solar 2, 3 & 4!”
Kees, Andre, Chris & Jason from BrixtonEnergy attended a workshop last weekend on how to make your own PV panels from scrap materials! It gave you a real understanding as to how the generation of electricity from the photo voltaic panels works and was so much fun. It was a lot simpler than you would think. How?… an old window, some plywood, broken or chipped solar cells along with a couple of other bits and bobs. It’s about half the cost of buying one in a shop and a great use for all that “scrap”. Time BrixtonEnergy pencil in a couple of dates for more workshops! Please let us know if your interested and look back here for upcoming events!