Community-owned retailer Enova Energy is hoping to realise plans to extend its reach beyond its home base in the NSW Northern Rivers region, with the launch of new round of crowd-sourced fundraising.
The campaign, being conducted via Crowd88, aims to raise at least $3 million to finance Enova Community Energy’s extension across NSW regions, including the Sydney CBD, followed by south-east Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
It comes three years after the Byron Bay headquartered start-up first made the call for early stage investment – at $1,000 a share – and successfully formed Australia’s first community-owned energy retailer.
Since then, more than 4,900 customers have signed up to Enova, which in March was ranked fourth in the Green Electricity Guide’s list of the nation’s most environment and consumer friendly energy retailers.
The company’s latest fund-raising also aims to “further democratise” its ownership model, by offering investors shares priced at $1 each, with a minimum purchase amount of $100.
And to limit the ability of large shareholders having too much influence in the community-based organisation, only the first 5000 shares will bring voting rights, with 1000 shares per vote.
Envoa said that through its non-profit arm – and after reaching break-even – it will dedicate 50 per cent of after-tax profits to projects that benefit communities in its “growing patch.”
“We are committed to a community-led renewable energy transition that does not exclude those who can’t afford it,” Enova said.
As well as retailing grid-sourced green energy, Enova offers customers who can’t install their own home solar system an option to power generated on the rooftops of its other solar customers, as well as from local community solar farms and gardens. It’s retail solar tariff is 16c/kWh.
In March, Mark Byrne – Energy Market Advocate at the Total Environment Centre and a regular contributor to RenewEconomy – described Enova as part of “a new breed of small retailers” with a strong commitment to supporting local communities as and renewables.
Given more time and investment, he added, they could start to challenge the dominance of the incumbents, and offer a tangible solution to the lack of competition that has contributed to higher power prices for consumers.
“Energy Locals and Enova Energy are on four stars. Neither currently has the scale to be able to directly build or own large power stations.
“But if they continue to grow, invest in more distributed energy resources and get more directly involved in energy efficiency and demand response programs, they could give the top two a run for their money in the next guide.”