Linklater pavilion

Linklater Pavilion, Lewes

Kayla Ente, BHESCo Founder and Director will be speaking at one of the Community Energy South discussions on Friday 19 September from 12 noon at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes.

To view the agenda for the event click here.

Kayla will be discussing the topic of community fuel tariffs and the benefits of these in the region.

This event has been organised to showcase local community energy initiatives, encouraging new groups to take up community energy, scaling up our low carbon future and making local green growth jobs.

This free event is part of a series of events focussed on providing information for community groups, parishes, local authorities, individuals and businesses who want to know more about developing a low carbon, energy efficient community and learn from communities who are doing just that. Existing groups will showcase the growth of community energy and debate the future growth of the industry in our region.

These half day conferences will provide opportunities to meet local energy champions. Lunch will be provided. To confirm your attendance, please register here.

Community-Energy-South-LogoCommunities are now playing an important part in the big energy debate and the government is listening.  In response to this Community Energy South will be hosting four events across the region between the 19th and 29th of September.

The events will showcase local community energy initiatives, setting out to encourage new groups to take up community energy, scaling up of our low carbon future and the creation of local, green-growth jobs.

Community Energy is now, more than ever, featuring in community agendas across the country. Today there are 6000 community energy groups in the UK looking closely at their local energy use. In doing so, they are making bold steps to generate locally owned energy, alongside helping their communities to use their power and heat more efficiently. These communities are both empowering themselves and making significant cost savings.
The ‘Powering our Communities’ events are free and are focused upon providing information for community groups, parishes, local authorities, individuals and businesses who are seeking information on developing a low carbon, energy efficient community. They provide an opportunity for everyone to learn from communities who are already active in doing just that. Existing groups will showcase the growth of community energy and debate the future growth of the industry in our region.

These half-day conferences will provide opportunities to meet local energy champions. 

For further information, including booking information, visit www.communityenergysouth.org.uk/events

Community energy coalition logoThe Community Energy Fortnight is an opportunity to explore and celebrate how communities across the UK are generating, owning and saving energy. Doors will be opened to projects up and down the country – from seeing inside a wind turbine to building your own solar panel – giving you a chance to see local renewables projects up-close and meet the people who are directly benefitting from them.

BHESCo will be running a Pop Up Energy Shop in Hove as part of the fortnight.Find out more about our Pop Up Energy Shop.

Visit the Community Energy Fortnight website to find out about other events across the country.

 

 

Doug Parr (small pic)On Tuesday 03 June Doug Parr, Chief Scientist and Policy Director at Greenpeace UK, came to talk to a full room at the Brighthelm Centre, regarding the Future of UK Energy.

Doug began by addressing the Big Six energy companies, the dominant force that control 95% of our energy supply. This unfair monopolisation of the market prompted the foundation of BHESCo: to provide the community of Brighton and Hove with an alternative to these Big Six companies, of which two thirds are owned by foreign corporations. Doug highlighted that there is not enough Government regulation to take the control away from the Big Six and that community energy is presenting a viable alternative to their control.

Over 60% of the population support renationalisation of the sector, giving the power back to the public sector creating a more secure energy future. At BHESCo we strongly believe that social enterprise can fill this gap. In our case providing clean, renewable energy and encouraging energy efficiency as a public service.  It was estimated that at the beginning of 2014, 6.59 million households were in fuel poverty, an increase of 13% from 2011 (ACE, 2014*). These households have become victims of price increases from the Big Six, accumulating a debt to their supplier that prevents them from switching to obtain a better deal. It is these circumstances that BHESCo aims to avoid, by helping communities reduce their energy consumption, lower their bills and develop community energy projects to generate our own power.

Doug Parr said community energy has the ability to be ‘powerful, intrusive and disruptive’ to the energy market, making a major contribution to our future energy system. This is something that BHESCo has believed in since founding in 2011, underpinning our services and practices.  Barriers such as planning permissions, finances and grid connections will need to be overcome and best practice established. Community projects are a way of breaking through these barriers as local buy in and cooperation will reduce the number of planning objections. In addition to this, the buy in and support of local authorities is critical to the success of community energy projects, and so developing relationships with these will only strengthen project development.

Doug highlighted that UK polls show that the population favours renewable energy sources, with solar power being the most favoured, over coal, oil and gas. However this preference is not reflected in energy policy or the strategy for building a sustainable energy industry. This is hardly surprising, as there is a multitude of research on the environmental attitude-behaviour gap which shows that although many people have environmental opinions, they do not act upon them. It is important to not see this as doom and gloom, there are many groups of people across the country striving towards a more sustainable society, with community led renewable energy projects developing clean, renewable energy for thousands of households across the country

“We can learn from Europe”, Doug said as he talked us through an example in Copenhagen, where a variety of energy sources provide the city’s power. Of these sources a significant amount are renewable. In Germany community energy generation has taken off, with 42% of its renewable energy capacity owned by individuals. Doug highlighted these places as best practice and urged us not to get left behind; we should look toward these countries to build a picture of what the future of UK energy could look like.

Amidst this, Doug touched on the process of fracking. BHESCo has covered this topic in blogs before highlighting that it is uneconomical, unnecessary and unclean (http://tinyurl.com/m4dprpu), all of which Doug agreed are legitimate concerns. However, as Doug warned the announcement of the ‘fracking law’ in the Queens speech on 04 June, has made the Governments intention to frack across the UK more definite. The changes in land regulations will allow companies to frack under homes of those who currently object, without permission and understanding the dangers of the practice.

Our efforts should be focussed on finding alternatives to fossil fuels, developing community energy and producing local power. Overall Doug was very inspirational and it reminded us all in the audience why we are striving towards the goal of community generated renewable energy.

We discussed Doug’s talk and the power of community energy on our radio show, with our guest, Geoff Barnard, Coordinator of Steyning 1010 & Brighthelm Centre Trustee. Please visit the Radio Free Brighton webpage to listen to the show.

* http://www.ukace.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ACE-and-EBR-fact-file-2014-02-Fuel-Poverty-update-2014.pdf

ollie2BHESCo Communications and Communities Director, Ollie Pendered, has been appointed to lead the Customer Services sub-group of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), working group on community energy grid connections. Ollie’s role is to represent community groups that work with the distribution network operators (DNO) in setting up connections for local or community renewable energy generation systems. DNOs are encouraged by the Incentive on Connections Engagement (ICE) to engage with stakeholders to agree connection targets. Despite this, connections still take too long and are too costly.

Ollie will also take a lead role in understanding customer service issues related to the development  of community energy grid connections. The  working group  focusses on identifying current issuses and barriers faced by community energy projects. The group and its members identify parties and forums suitable for raising issues and advancing the aims of the working group. By doing this the working group will highlight actions and present recommendations to the Secretary of State  for advancing community energy projects. The working group subs groups  focus on areas including connection costs, capacity and investment policy and demand flexibility and storage.

Community energy projects present opportunities for individuals to be part of self sufficient communities, generating power through efficient, sustainable technologies. To find out more about community energy projects visit the BHESCo website, read the DECC Guidance on Community Energy or contact us.


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