Luring green consumers to invest in clean power

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Invest a guilder for each kilowatt hour of annual consumption and you can tell friends or business acquaintances that you are a consumer of cleanly generated power. With this conscience-waking sales pitch, Triodos Bank in the Netherlands is expecting to attract some NLG 15 million ($8 million) from small investors for two new growth funds which will exclusively finance wind power projects.

The HET Windfonds for private persons -- and its sister fund for registered companies -- promise a return on investment of at least 7% per annum averaged over 15 years. Investors must be patient, though. No more than 3% is expected in the early years and there will be no cash dividends.

HET Windfonds will not be quoted on the stock exchange but can be traded through the fund at their intrinsic value, according to the fund's latest published balance sheet. The first issuance of stock, which closes January 25, is being traded at NLG 100 ($53) a share.

The Windfonds' initiative was triggered by contacts made by Triodos with both the Benelux division of The Body Shop chain of health and beauty stores as well as the Dutch affiliate of Friends of the Earth, Milieudefensie. The Body Shop, a UK company which has already invested in a Welsh wind farm, is anxious to find ways of compensating for the environmental impact of its electricity consumption and has reportedly invested some NLG 250,000 in Windfonds stock, representing a guilder for every kilowatt used annually. For its part, Milieudefensie has run a campaign encouraging its members to put their money where their mouth is.

Since 1986, ethical banking veteran Triodos has co-financed 26 MW of wind power. The bank is the largest private organisation active in the field of wind power development in the Netherlands and currently has NLG 8 million ($4.2 million) tied up in wind projects. It gained green growth fund experience by investing in ecological farming land and it manages a diversified green pension fund of around $10 million together with insurance company Delta Lloyd.

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