BEN Virtual Open Meeting

Update on City Leap, BEN and BEN member activities

BEN held its first ever Virtual Open Meeting (via Zoom) on Wednesday 29th April 2020 at 6.30pm.

Attendees: Peninah Achieng, Mike Andrews, Suzanne Audrey, Liz Barling, Vicky Beckwith, Jamie Beevor, Caroline Bird, Andy Birkett, Diana Davey, Sarah Diver, Caroline Ennion, Martin Fodor, Richard Hancock, Jamie Hanlon, Julian Jones, Jenny Howard-Coles, Andy Kent, Mark Leach, Mark Peti, Stuart Phelps, Paul Phare, Tricia Roweth, Roger Sabido, David Saunders, Karn Shah, Robert Smart, Peter Thompson, David Tudgey, Dorian Wainwright, Philip Wallace, Sam Willitts, Rebecca Windemer

Also registered: Alex Lockton, Joanna Booth, Robin Hicks, James Whanlon, Jon Sankey, Anthony Elliott, Suzanne Roe, David Cook

Apologies: Jake Barnes, Graeme Cook, Gillian Knight, Judith Sluglett, Richard Lowe

City Leap Update

Paul Phare, BEN Director, gave a presentation on the work he has been doing as part of a “Community Consortium” (made up of Bristol Energy Network, Low Carbon Gordano, Bristol Energy Cooperative, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Triodos Bank, Zero West and Bristol Green Capital Partnership) who are developing a community energy proposal for the bidders in the procurement process of City Leap. It must be noted that the proposal has not formally been adopted into the procurement process, however it has strong support from the Energy Team in Bristol City Council.

There was lots of positive feedback for the proposal from the meeting.

There was also some discussion about how democratic The City Leap process has been. In response, BEN directors emphasized that what the Consortium are endeavouring to do with this proposal is to ensure that, as far as possible, we can bring in community voices and financing for community projects through City Leap, which is a Bristol City Council initiative. BEN and the other Consortium members have seen City Leap as a great opportunity to encourage, support and provide opportunities for wider community engagement in City Leap. This is not intended to be *in place of* city wide citizen engagement in City Leap as a whole – it is the Council’s responsibility to ensure this happens democratically (although we will be happy to advise, support etc).

BEN Update

Caroline Bird and David Tudgey gave an update about what BEN has been doing recently. See report below.

Member Update

Lockleaze Loves Solar: David Saunders outlined the project and speculated on the potential to undertake large scale purchase of domestic solar system at low wholesale prices. Despite the potential for savings in solar costs, the project is still working through the operational costs of managing the system including insurance, cost of capital and depreciation of asset value over time. Therefore, at present Lockleaze Loves Solar has not identified a workable model for a community benefit society with a duty of care to investors (though the scheme might work for a private group of individuals on a smaller scale). We are still working through the numbers and looking at alternative delivery models to make this viable but we specifically do not anticipate that it will be possible to offer solar electricity to householders within a community benefit model at wholesale electricity prices. 

Friends of the Earth BristolJulian Jones discussed the call that UN Director General put out at the start of the week, asking us all to ensure that the recovery from coronavirus is sustainable. Friends of the Earth are encouraging their members to lobby their MPs to ensure this opportunity to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels is not missed. If you are interested in getting involved please contact your local Friends of the Earth group.

Ambition Lawrence WestonRoger Sabido and David Tudgey announced that after 4 years developing this project, they have finally submitted a planning application, a decision is due to be made on 1st July 2020. The turbine has the backing of the local community who will own the turbine, once it is installed. They have ambitions to create an Energy Learning Zone around the turbine, so people can come and learn about energy. Please show your support this project by logging onto the planning portal, here.

Greater Fishponds Energy Group: Mark Peti described the revitalisation of this group with a new influx of members and a grant from the City Council to support a display about saving energy and carbon in Fishponds Library. They are currently planning the display so it will be ready to go once libraries reopen once more.

We recorded this Zoom meeting but it is too big to post here! So if you would like a copy please apply to coordinator@bristolenergynetwork.org.

But don’t just take our word for it! Liz Barling from Keynsham Communty Energy has also written this meeting up as a blog – check it out here.

And finally, please complete the BEN Members survey if you haven’t done so already.

Stay well!