23 Mar 2017
“I wouldn’t want to be the MP in Parliament who voted to oppose Hinkley C”.
With a very concerned look mixed with fear, this quote comes from an insider in the Halls of Power of the Energy Industry. Yet he works for a company that has chosen to put at the heart of its strategy the preparation and facilitation of the transition to a distributed network. This, in essence, is a bet on the proliferation of local renewable energy generation, and a move away from the inefficiency of centralised power stations. A distributed network is needed when there are lots of energy generators installed on rooftops, in the hills, in the sea and under the streets of our cities, towns and villages.
BHESCo estimates that there is almost 50GW worth of applications for battery storage facilities wanting to connect with the 8 Distribution Network Operators and the National Grid. This is about 10 times the power generation capacity of Hinkley C and Moorside combined, at a fraction of the price to the taxpayer and to future taxpayers. Granted, this is an emerging technology, as yet without a track record, however in the 10 years it will take for these nuclear power plants to be operational, battery storage will have become mainstream. As Steven Holliday, former CEO of the National Grid, announced in 2015, “base load power is obsolete.” Base load nuclear power is wasteful, where at present 60% of the electricity produced is lost in conversion, transmission and distribution.
Despite pleas from over 160 organisations, this year’s national budget includes a ‘Solar Tax’ collected in the form of business rates. If you own a solar array less than 50kW, the value of your property for business rates will be increased by the nominal value of the solar array on your roof. This will have enormous implications on small businesses that have become solar generators because the tax is most likely to approximate or exceed any benefit that they receive for the free electricity from the sun. Because any investment in energy generation requires a certain return in order for investors to commit their hard earned cash, a business rates tax on solar arrays eliminates any incentive to accelerate our transition from fossil fuels by investing in generating your own electricity. The ‘solar tax’ is an intentional assault on free power from the sun as, for example, gas combined heat and power systems have been exempt from business rates since 2001.
Now consider the subsidies for investors in shale gas exploration, or ‘fracking’. This subsidy comes in the form of tax breaks called Enhanced Capital Allowances that permit firms that are investing in shale gas exploration to deduct the cost of the equipment directly against their taxable income, in many cases virtually eliminating any tax due. For companies like Centrica, who are a large investor in Cuadrilla, these tax breaks run into the millions  . Other similar tax breaks will be enjoyed by Ineos, who intend to invest £168 million in shale gas exploration (which at 40% tax relief, amount to £68 million) or IGas who invested £16 million in equipment in 2015. Nuclear power on the other hand costs the taxpayer billions each year for transport, storage and decommissioning of existing power plants alone, before we even being to count the cost of constructing new ones such as Hinkley C and Moorside, as each of these proposed plants are being constructed using unproven technologies. Simply put, the “solar tax” is an assault on the little guy, just another addition to the unfair tax policies that protect the 10% and burden the 90%, in this case, small businesses.
For anyone who believes that we must take responsibility for our energy supply now for the sake of our climate and our energy security, we wonder: what is the difference in tax receipts for the Treasury if the money comes from the clean energy industry or from dirty fossil fuels or nuclear? Or do we really want to spend our money as taxpayers supporting a government that is afraid to make the decisions that we need to ensure that we have clean, affordable energy in the future? Wouldn’t we rather ensure that our schools have sufficient funds to properly educate our children, or that the NHS continues to thrive as an accessible customer service focused health care system?
Join the fight today by writing to your MP, signing an anti-fracking or anti-nuclear petition, or becoming an investor in Community Energy. Make sure that important decisions about our future are made from a position of courage, not fear. Mostly make sure that you are informed, as such short sighted changes to tax legislation will have long term impacts on our quality of life.
 www.greentechmedia.com energydesk.greenpeace.org
20 Mar 2017
Energy Heroes an innovative teaching and learning course designed to improve numeracy and science skills through exploration of data associated with Climate Change. Aimed at pupils in year 5, and also with a focus on families and wider society, Energy Heroes shows communities how to be a leader in energy management, saving money, creating less carbon dioxide, and wasting less of the world’s precious resources – truly heroic actions!
Over the course of 6 lessons, children explore where energy is used at home and at school, and have to complete a number of home challenges and quizzes, as well as an energy log book.
Think you have what it takes to be an energy hero? Take the quiz:
The project is funded by UK Power Networks (who maintain the electricity grid), and is being led by Community Energy South who are specialists in community energy. BHESCo is helping to deliver a pilot of the programme to schools in Brighton & Hove, with the hope of eventually rolling out the programme to all schools in the area.
For more information please visit www.energyheroes.org.uk
23 Feb 2017
Since the start of the year, five ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers (EDF, Npower, E.On, SSE, and Scottish Power) have announced steep increases of between 8-10% in their standard tariff, leaving millions of households in the UK paying around £100 more for their gas and electricity bills.
The various reasons cited for these price hikes include the weakening of the pound compared to the US Dollar, an increase in wholesale costs, and the expense of delivering the national smart meter rollout (a government policy that energy suppliers are required to deliver by 2020).
And although other large energy suppliers have yet to announce price rises of their own, it’s a safe bet that it’ll just a matter of time until all standard tariffs go up. In the past few months we have noted an average increase of 10p per day on the standing charges of some energy suppliers, which will impact the poorest in society because it is charged regardless of much much energy is used. To compound matters, the Guardian recently reported that there are 77 fixed-price tariffs due to expire before the end of April, meaning thousands of UK households will automatically be moved onto an expensive standard tariff unless they take action.
This is why it is vitally important for people to switch, to make sure they are not paying over the odds on their energy bills. Last year, we collectively overpaid £2 billion too much to energy suppliers because 88% of us didn’t switch.
If someone is currently on a standard tariff, BHESCo would recommend that they sign up to a fixed tariff as soon as possible and lock in to a good price for 12 or 24 months. For households whose fixed tariff is due to expire soon, you can switch to a new fixed tariff up to 40 days in advance of your current contract ending, without having to pay an exit fee. Details of your tariff expiration date can be found on your bill.
There are various energy tariff comparison websites you can use, but BHESCo finds My Utility Genius the easiest.
If you would like free and reliable advice on finding the best energy tariff for your home, please contact BHESCo today:
phone: 0800 999 6671
16 Feb 2017
BHESCo have been hard at work trying to alleviate fuel poverty in Brighton & Hove this week.
Despite the great success we’ve had, there are still thousands of homes in our city who suffer from cold homes and struggle with high fuel bills.
Please contact us if you know a friend, neighbour, or family member who could benefit from our free service.
BHESCo have been awarded £2,500 from Brighton Energy Co-op’s Community Fund to help reduce levels of fuel poverty in the city. The aim of the fund is to support either renewable electricity generation or energy efficiency measures. They have asked BHESCo to deliver free home energy surveys and implement measures for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
BHESCo have already completed over 200 free energy surveys around Brighton as part of a ‘Warmth For Wellbeing’ programme, making homes warmer and more comfortable while also reducing monthly energy bills for those who may struggle to keep up.
But with over 15,000 households in the area identified as suffering from fuel poverty, there is still a great deal of work to be done.
BHESCo’s CEO Kayla Ente said.
“We are grateful to Brighton Energy Co-operative for this opportunity to extend our work to more people in our city who are living in cold homes. We will do our best to reach as many people as possible with the funding they have made available for this vital work.”
Brighton Energy Co-op’s Community Fund is paid for by the Feed in Tariffs on BEC’s existing systems and by donations from members.