Taking Steps to Build a Community Energy Project

This guide has been designed to help guide you through the steps needed to build a successful community energy organisation capable of embarking on ambitious renewable energy projects.

It is the result of 30 years collective experience in growing community sustainability groups. It is informed by expert research and practice. We recommend that you follow the guide in a step by step basis as doing so will give your organisation strong foundations capable of making beneficial partnerships with policy makers, finance providers, state agencies and other stakeholders.

The steps are taken in monthly increments – this is the ideal time between meetings: it enables members to take time, research ideas, make contacts, and avoid burnout.

To get the best value out of this guide, follow the steps and complete the progress forms as you go. They will help you give the best possible foundation to your community group.

Key Task
End Week
Steering Committee 1st Meeting
Inform friends and community of intention to form a committee
Discuss Objectives within this circle
Come to general consensus of aims
Write out these aims and sign acceptance
Steering Committee 2nd Meeting
Examine the possible structures of Community Organisation
Form steering committee of 8 members
Agree Standing orders
Carry out Stakeholder Mapping
Invite representative of the weaker stakeholder group to next meeting
Steering Committee 3rd Meeting
Choose your organisational structure
Contact correct mentor: ECI/ICOS (co-op) or The Wheel (CLG)
Establish strong community Network Links
Steering Committee 4th Meeting
Reach out to energy and sustainability experts/mentors, Complete formation of organisational structure (RFS/CRO process)
Steering Committee 5th Meeting
Reach out to beacon organisations and also recruit members/member shareholders more widely in your community
Steering Committee 6th Meeting
Plan public meeting
Steering Committee 7th Meeting
Present plans to public meeting

How to Get Started


Wk1 Inform friends and community of intention to form a committee.

Good community projects usually start with one person having one good idea. However, they don’t succeed if that’s where they remain. To grow a community organisation, that one person with the seed of a good idea has to build a network around themselves to help nurture that seed.

Start simple, where you’re most likely to succeed. Explain the idea to friends and family: recruit them as allies, as partners in a growing project. Ask them for feedback, for new angles. Not everybody will want to get involved, but you can probably recruit two or three people to begin with. You need them to really commit however, this will likely be a fairly time-consuming and lengthy project. Their interest may drop off after a while, but you need to get them to agree to help out for at least a couple of months until things get moving. You need to be up front and say that you will be forming a steering committee.

Set a date for the first meeting of that committee. Arrange a suitable location (a room in a community hall is preferable because you will be establishing a contact there for the future), set out and agree an agenda and maximum meeting length (11/2 hours is more than enough)

Research the field:

Look at some good examples of successful community groups: so that you can bring these stories to the first meeting. Share your research before the meeting – you don’t want to have a presentation, you want to have a discussion and come to decisions at the meeting.

Getting started on your renewable community journey: forming a steering committee

Any information you input here is strictly confidential and will not be shared. Please see our PRIVACY POLICY