The New England Wind Cooperative (NEW Coop) is being formed to lead and coordinate the work required to establish a community wind farm in New England. New England residents and businesses will be able to invest in the community wind farm through the cooperative and receive returns from the wind energy produced.
Benefits from the wind farm established by this cooperative will return to the New England community through direct investment as well as via a pre-determined Community Benefits Plan.
The proposed legal structure will need to be proven in three respects:
1. Further legal advice ensuring that the design principles can be successfully incorporated into the constitutions of the proposed structure;
2. Full costing of the establishment and compliance costs for the legal structure to satisfy governance and regulatory requirements; and,
3. A survey is necessary to assess support for the proposed structure, financial return and investment commitment. This is best undertaken once a site is selected and a more detailed financial and business model can be canvassed.
An active online poll has been completed to gather feedback and community reaction to the proposed structure. The Quick Poll brought 82 responses, providing feedback on the preliminary findings of the Study. One of the questions polled was with regard to the proposed legal structure in which we must balance the needs of community and large/professional investors. Comments made stressed the importance for strong, majority local ownership and decision-making with clear anti-takeover provisions. Another theme which came through strongly was the importance of the right professional people to lead and run the wind farm.
The potential to establish an effective vehicle for small and self-managed superannuation funds investing in New England Wind is a key future consideration.