Chief financial officer Wendy Parsons is one of the driving forces behind the Kouga Wind Farm Community Development Trust, which aims to empower previously disadvantaged people living within a 50km radius of the farm. Here she explains how the trust works and what it hopes to achieve.
Q: Why was the trust set up and is it now operating?
A: The Department of Energy’s REIPPP Programme requires surrounding communities to have an element of ownership in each project. A requirement of the bid for the project was to reinvest a portion of the project’s profits back into the people living in the area. The trust was registered as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) in February, when SARS gave it tax exemption. This is a huge step forward, as we can now start spending effectively.
Q: How is the money raised?
A: Revenue is earned from Eskom via the sale of electricity. The Industrial Development Corporation provided funding for the Trust to purchase a stake in the project. Profits from the business are paid to shareholders, of which the Trust is one.
Q: How is the money spent and who decides on beneficiaries?
A: The trustees decide how the money will be invested. The board of trustees is made up of a number of qualified people, including independent and community representatives.
Q: What projects are currently in the pipeline?
A: There are a number of projects currently in concept phase, such as the Early Childhood Development practitioners’ training, after-school development programme, and a swimming programme.
Q: How does Kouga Wind Farm benefit from the project?
A: The project seeks to positively impact the community members’ lives, and being able to give back is its own reward. In addition to the Trust’s investment, Kouga Wind Farm also spends a percentage of its revenue on community development projects. The Trust has more funds and a broader scope for development, so there is close collaboration between the two entities to maximise the overall benefit for the surrounding communities.