Where to start? So much has happened since the AGM! Most importantly, the newly-formed Islay Energy Community Benefit Society ( the body which will ultimately own and operate the community wind turbine) launched its share offer on the 19th January.
Interest was keen and investment has been brisk – £75,000 was pledged on the launch evening, and the current total, with 4 days to go until the offer closes, stands at just over £460,000. This is a magnificent show of support from the Islay community and beyond, and has given us great heart during the last few weeks.
We have been working with the Scottish Investment Bank to secure top-up loan funding to meet any shortfall in project costs after the share offer closes, and this has involved some of us for the first time in the rigours of Due Diligence. This is a process which could perhaps be described as akin to childbirth, in that no-one else can fully explain how much it is going to hurt! To have several sets of solicitors scrutinising every document related to the project and querying every clause is, to say the least, stressful, and it is to the credit of the directors and staff involved that no-one has yet run away; one or two us, however, may well run away if we hear those dreaded words again.
This is coming to an end, and we do hope to reach financial close very soon; currently the plan is to start work on site towards the end of April and for the turbine to be commissioned and generating income for the community by November this year. Dr Colin Anderson, who has acted as Technical Adviser throughout, has now been appointed Project Manager for the construction phase. We are delighted to have Colin fully involved, as his calming presence and keen mind will keep us on track in the coming months. Colin visited Islay this week and we not only paced out the site, but placed a peg to mark the exact centre of the turbine for Enercon’s reference. It has taken four years to place that peg, and the moment was well worth marking!