As a Co-operative, Wey Valley Solar is guided by the same principles and values as all other co-ops around the world. These principles were adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance in 1995.
These 7 principles are at the core of all the work we do:
1. Voluntary and Open Membership: Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to everyone able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination. At Wey Valley Solar we have 120 members, either local to the co-op or part of its community of cause.
2. Democratic Member Control: Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in policy and decision-making. At Wey Valley Solar, our volunteer directors serve as elected representatives accountable to the membership. All members have equal voting rights: one member, one vote.
3. Member Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to and democratically control the co-operative’s capital. Our member schools purchase electricity generated by our solar panels, at a discounted rate.
4. Autonomy and Independence: Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy. Wey Valley Solar pays for specialist help for monitoring and maintenance of their solar PV systems, accounting and some administration but responsibility remains with the volunteer directors and members.
5. Education, Training and Information: Co-operatives around the world provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. Wey Valley Solar works closely with our school members so they can use the data produced by our solar panels in lessons such as geography, science and economics classes. We work with teachers to help produce resources that can be used across all stages of education.
6. Cooperation among co-operatives: Co-ops serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together. Wey Valley Solar is a member of Energy4All, a co-operative of energy co-operatives. We support other co-ops by sharing out experience and expertise, which has resulted in several other energy co-ops being set up nationally, and through financial support where possible.
7. Concern for Community: Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by our members. Wey Valley Solar members share the profits of the co-op each year with the schools that are part of our co-op. This funding is available for the schools to use however they wish. Some examples of how schools have used the funding in the past are: developing links with schools in Africa by purchasing laptops and solar PV for the school, funding the installation of bike sheds and equipment for environmental & gardening clubs.