Virtuous CircleBrighton and Hove Energy Saving Co-operative (BHESCO) launched its bid to raise £1M to fund up to 10 community renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Sussex.

When people put money into the co-operative, they become members and buy shares. For a minimum investment of £250, each investor receives a 5-7% year on year return.  BHESCo has advanced assurance for the Enterprise Investment scheme giving 30% relief on the amount invested.

People who invest £500 will be able to claim £150 of that straight back in their next tax return. If the interest rate continues into subsequent tax years, investors will have doubled their money in 11 years. Moreover they will become part of a movement that helps reduce reliance on fossil fuels and contributes to a more sustainable future.

The offer was formally launched via Ethex, the UK’s award winning positive investment website. The minimum investment is £250 and the maximum is £100,000. To apply visit www.ethex.org.uk.

BHESCO’s share offer feeds into an innovative business model that forms a blueprint for energy groups across the country. By establishing a portfolio of services, including partnerships with energy suppliers, energy assessments and energy consultancy, the co-operative has successfully created a number of robust revenue streams. The model can be adopted in other towns and cities to ensure endurance of local energy groups.

The event has received coverage from local newspaper, The Argus and The Brighton & Hove Independent. The first installations include a biomass boiler for an independent school in Hove and a total retrofit of energy saving technology, including a solar array, for a social enterprise that manages affordable office spaces. BHESCO is also working with Brighton & Hove City Council to install solar on schools.

As well as benefitting from the government’s Feed-In-Tariff and renewable heat incentive – which guarantees a fixed price for community generated renewable energy for 20 years, the projects will also make significant savings on energy bills.

These factors combined give investors a 5% annual return on their investment, while enabling BHESCO to reinvest any profits in more community owned energy projects.

Kayla Ente, Founder and CEO said: “We’re used to thinking that doing good and making money are often opposed, especially when it comes to energy, but that doesn’t apply here.  This is a win-win-win – Sussex gets more renewable energy while properties are made more efficient, cutting our carbon footprint and energy bills. Businesses and organisations we work with get cheaper energy, and the people who’s money makes it happen receive an interest rate that’s 10 times better than what they’re getting on their bank savings.”

Notes for Editors:

BHESCO (www.bhesco.co.uk) is a co-operative society registered with the Financial Conduct Authority registered number 32097R.

The offer is not affected by the FSMA 2002 regulations on public offerings on shares. For more information on community shares, see www.communityshares.org.uk

Community energy is a fast-growing sector of the activity, aided by the payment of the Government’s Feed-in-tariff and renewable heat incentive that guarantees a fixed price for 20 years, enabling BHESCO to reward its members with strong financial returns.

 

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Our hustings event, modelled on the BBC 1 show ‘Question Time’ is a fantastic opportunity to ask your local Brighton Pavilion candidates all those pressing questions concerning climate change and with the aim of teasing out their different approaches.Panel members include Green Party candidate Caroline Lucas, Labour candidate Purna Sen, Conservative Party candidate Clarence Mitchell, Lib Dem candidate Chris Bowers and UKIP candidate Nigel Carter. In the chair: Simon Maxwell.

Everyone will get an opportunity for their question to be asked, questions will be submitted before the event.

Through this event, we aim to:

– Encourage young people/first time voters to engage
– Gain a better understanding of the local candidates stance on environmental issues
– Encourage lively debate and awareness of the issues
– Give you an opportunity to question your potential MP’s
The event is sponsored by Community Energy South – a new umbrella group for local community energy groups across Sussex and surrounding counties.

Ticket Prices : £5 and concession £3

Doors and bar open: 7.00pm
Deadline for submitting questions: 7.30pm

Debate starts: 8.00pm (prompt – please be in your seats!)

 

With the fossil fuel industry up to capacityred box Treasury, the government has ignored the obvious alternative and decided to hand out tax breaks for dirty gas, oil and nuclear power, despite overwhelming scientific and economic evidence of the benefits of renewable alternatives.

So, the air gets more polluted and unnecessarily cold homes continue to contribute to the misery and deaths of thousands of vulnerable people each winter.

We have the resources and the research, and most significantly the will to overcome the energy challenges we face in the UK. Within the space of a year 15 community groups in Sussex alone have joined forces to support energy savings and the devecold home2lopment of locally generated renewable energy. But those in power are sidestepping the obvious solution diverting taxpayers funds to uneconomic investments.

Instead, the government offers tax breaks for the big energy companies to build more fossil fuel plants and new nuclear.  The autumn statement promised £15billion for roads. It overhauls stamp duty ignoring the opportunity to link it to environmentally friendly buildings. Even the flood defense proposals are inadequate, according to experts. The treasury continues to endorse shale gas production, despite overwhelming public concern about safety and the impacts on land, water and air, including the emission of even more greenhouse gases.

As taxpayers we are right to have a say in where our money goes, and insist on value for money on government spending. One may ask how this major investment in roads and tax breaks for fossil fuels will meet the immediate need to address fuel poverty and its consequent pressure on the NHS.  Furthermore, how will it encourage the generation of locally controlled renewable energy which has been proven to reduce energy prices in Germany and is supported by millions of people across the country as a way of taking back control of our own energy supply and improving energy security?

 

big energy saving NetworkBHESCo, as a Champion of the Big Energy Savings Network, is now working with community groups, schools and charities to provide useful advice to people about how to stay warmer for less this winter.

Founder Director Kayla Ente has visited St Nicholas Church and Varndean School over the past month, emphasizing the fact that if you haven’t switched suppliers once your fixed contract expires, it is likely that you are paying too much on your energy bills.

At Varndean School, Kayla spoke to 20 parents about ways to prevent and treat damp, helped parents switch tariffs and helped resolve a problem a parent had with a prepayment meter. An average of £200 per household was saved just by switching energy supplier.  This can make a contribution to reducing fuel debt, providing more disposable income for families.

A week later BHESCO had a stand at the AMAZE Info Fair, where Kayla spoke to parents of children with Special Education Needs and disabilities about their energy usage, advising some about whether they were on the best tariff and about energy savings measures they can take in their homes.

More recently, BHESCo ran a workshop in conjunction with National Energy Action at The Space Place at the Hanover Community Centre. While the ladies were busy sewing draught excluders out of beautiful recycled fabric, BHESCo was providing knowledgeable advice and help with their energy bills.  Again, an average of £200 per year was saved on energy bills by switching to a lower tariff.

Forthcoming events on 15 December include a lunchtime presentation at AGE UK for front line workers, and on 15 January a workshop for frontline workers from Brighton & Hove County Council at the Brighthelm Centre and on 13 January at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Hove.

Look out, too, for the Older People’s forum which BHESCO are hosting at their base at the Brighthelm centre on 22 January.

 

energybillof-rightOn Monday, 27 October, Fuel Poverty Action launched their Energy Bill of Rights in Parliament to the acclaim of MPs and community groups.

BHESCo have pledged our support for the bill which campaigns for an affordable renewable energy system owned by the community, read the blog post on our website.

The launch in Parliament will be a chance for people to share their stories of when their rights to energy have been violated, listen to others stories’, share victories, and talk together about how we can put the Energy Bill of Rights into practice.  BHESCo spoke about the important contribution that Community Energy Groups can make to securing a safe, clean and secure energy future, reviewing all the different options available for energy generation, inlcuding wind, solar, biomass, biofuels, tidal and wave energy.

Contact Fuel Poverty Action (fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com) to sign up to the Energy Bill of Rights and join the Facebook event here.  

Please contact your MP to support Early Day Motion number 395 that was put forward by Caroline Lucas, our local MP.

 


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