Once you’ve done your background work, and ensured that your community energy project will satisfy a definite need in your community, it's time to get down to business!
How your project is led and managed will vary according to many factors. For example, is there a project team of committed individuals already formed, or do you need to recruit? Does it rely solely on volunteer effort, or will there be funding to pay for a project manager? Are other groups able to become partners? Even with a group of willing volunteers, you may need to buy in specialist help or expertise, or engage a part-time worker.
1. Project team. A steering group or project team is usually required. Consult widely. Invite representatives of partner organizations to join. Make sure you are not seen as a special interest clique! For most projects, finding partners is highly desirable, even essential.
2. Business model. For larger projects you may need to consider different business models, depending on the strategic and administrative advantages: e.g. a community enterprise, a charity, a cooperative or an energy services company (ESCO).
3. Constitution. Handling money from funding bodies will require a bank account, and usually some form of constitution that describes how your organization operates, and its aims and objectives. If you belong to an existing body, such as a village hall committee or residents' association, these aspects should be covered already. If not, you will need to become a constituted body, probably with named officers such as a chairperson, secretary and treasurer.
4. Define roles of the team members. Does the team need to appoint a leader or is someone already the de facto 'leader' because it 'was his or her idea'? This depends on the group's size and dynamics. Often it is left to one or two individuals to drive the project and maintain momentum.
Also, define how the project outcomes are distributed, and who will benefit.
5. Publicity. Publicize the project and involve the community as much as possible. They need to be convinced of the project's benefits in return for their support! Methods include:
TALKING - to community leaders and activists, local schools/colleges; presentations to anyone who will listen!
WRITING - leaflets, newsletters, press releases, posters, webpages, etc.
EVENTS - BBQs, fetes, fun days, coffee mornings, etc.
6. Record keeping - stay on top of things! Aspects to cover include minutes of meetings, expenses, health and safety; insurance, job descriptions, line management policy, progress monitoring and reporting.
7. Have fun! PLAN, DELEGATE, COUNSEL, DISCIPLINE and MOTIVATE…and above all HAVE FUN!