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Empower community issues a £10 million loan note to provide solar energy to social housing in sunderland

“We’re always looking for new ways to make a positive difference and influence change”

Empower Community will use the funds to acquire and manage existing solar photovoltaic installations on 2327 Gentoo social homes and 6 corporate buildings in the Sunderland area. It will continue to provide thousands of tenants with access to free daytime energy, which can reduce bills by up to 40% and will reduce carbon emissions with clean solar energy. With the refinancing of Gentoo’s solar panels, Gentoo plans to roll out PV panels to an additional 3000 homes in Sunderland.

Empower Community Management’s Alex Grayson says “The beauty of this deal is that everybody’s interests are aligned: the investor makes solid financial returns, with measurable social and environmental impact; tenants enjoy access to free daytime power, which helps them escape fuel poverty; Gentoo enjoys an ongoing return and financing to continue their exciting developments and the community receives funding for local initiatives from the profits.”

Peter Walls, Chief Executive, Gentoo Group said: “We’re always looking for new ways to make a positive difference and influence change – this innovative deal with Empower Community does just that. Fuel poverty is a genuine concern with rising energy costs – ‘heat or eat’ is a reality that many vulnerable individuals in our society are now facing. This is a unique way to deliver more solar solutions to our customers, at no cost, with the additional benefits that the local community fund will bring.”

Since the introduction of the Feed-in Tariff in 2010, despite some reviews along the way, the stable, long-term and index-linked nature of revenues from these projects have been attracting increasing interest from the UK institutional investment markets, but this is the first at-scale ‘balanced stakeholder’ model to arrive.


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