Who We Are & What We’re About
BHESCo is a not-for-profit social enterprise aiming to become a community energy supplier in Brighton & Hove.
We bring people together to take control of their energy supply.
Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative (BHESCo) was founded in 2012 by Kayla Ente, with the aim of advancing the transition away from fossil fuels in our energy supply and towards clean, renewable energy.
Kayla had worked as an accountant in San Francisco and Amsterdam before deciding to leave that career behind, taking a job with Greenpeace International where she was determined to dedicate her life to tackling environmental issues.
The next decade saw her involved with a number of innovative organisations like Ecofys and Nuon Global Solutions where she conducted financial engineering for wind, hydro and solar PV projects. At Nuon, Europe’s first green energy supplier, she won an award for a financing scheme for solar thermal hot water systems.
Listen to BHESCo’s founder, Kayla Ente, explain how the co-op got started:
In 2004 Kayla moved to London to start her own energy service company. There were still many decisions to make, like profits, for example. Despite a growing network, she was unable to gain momentum for the company because of a lack of cohesion across boroughs. On the advice of a friend, she moved to Brighton in 2012 to try again there, and that’s when things began to take shape.
BHESCo was to address the two issues that prevent the uptake of renewable energy; finance and technical uncertainty. It was to be a social enterprise, where profit making wasn’t the priority. With the support of two colleagues, BHESCo was formed in 2013. These three years were some of the hardest in the co-op’s history, which saw Kayla spend countless hours building community support while also developing BHESCo’s first projects and refining the business model.
By summer 2015 everything was in place to launch a share offer to encourage investors to take a chance on this new economic model. This was a critical moment for BHESCo – if not enough funds were raised, then none of the projects could be built.
Three years of hard work paid off and enough money was raised to begin our first four community energy projects. We were on our way!
In the years since, BHESCo has raised over £450,000, investing £380,000 in projects. In keeping with Kayla’s original dream, the co-op has completed 18 energy projects which save 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Part of BHESCo’s work, is devoted to building a set of tools and a replicable business model for local energy groups across the country.
BHESCo now employs 6 permanent members of staff, and offers a home energy saving service which has visited 280 properties in Sussex.
As well as tackling climate change, BHESCo is dedicated to reducing fuel poverty, and has given free energy advice to 650 residents in the area. In total so far, BHESCo has reduced energy bills in the community by £123,500, and this will only increase as the years go by.
In recognition of our vital work, BHESCo is honoured to have received awards from Community Energy England and National Energy Action, and to have been shortlisted as a finalist for Green Company of the Year in the 2017 Brighton & Hove Business Awards.
It’s been an incredible journey since Kayla first left San Francisco all those years ago, and there is still a long way to go. Speaking in July 2017, Kayla said:
Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative Ltd (BHESCo) is a consumer co-operative, an industrial and provident society, registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. BHESCo was established to help consumers lower their energy costs now and in the future by introducing energy savings and renewable energy micro-generation in communities, empowering individuals to take more control over their own energy supply.
The management team at BHESCo have more than 20 years experience in the renewable energy and energy efficiency field, more than 50 years combined experience to contribute to reducing energy costs in our community.