Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, was in Bristol yesterday on a visit to the City Council, CSE and a number of other Bristol organisations, to learn more about recent projects and Bristol’s energy future.
DECC funding is supporting a fuel poverty initiative (Bristol Switch & Save) and a Green Deal trail (the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade scheme) both of which have shown there is a real appetite in Bristol for schemes which will help save energy. Jake Barnes from Bristol Energy Network was invited to represent the community energy sector at a small roundtable discussion at City Hall on lessons from recent projects and plans for Bristol’s energy future.
Whilst there was little time, he did get a chance to flag up some important points:
1. The community energy sector in Bristol is thriving and achieving more than ever. It has the potential to support government targets to reduce energy demand, but it needs resourcing and consistency in policy. It would also benefit from clear programmes that can easily be rolled out in a sector which relies so heavily on volunteers and goodwill.
2. A Bristol Community Strategy for Energy is underway and will hopefully be launched in Big Green Week. It should complement the national Community Energy Strategy, which Ed Davey is supporting.
He also passed on a letter (below) from Iris Etting at Re:work Bristol, flagging up some areas of support which would make a huge difference to a local social enterprise in encouraging Green Deal take up and instigating changes in low carbon behaviours.
Following the meeting Jake said “Mr Davey’s support and enthusiasm for the national community energy strategy was great to see and so this was a good opportunity to convey both the ambition and constraints of Bristol’s community energy groups to achieving a low carbon future.”
Nine local community energy groups have participated in the city’s Green Deal trail providing a basis on which to build in future projects: “Community participation in the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade has shown a willingness and capacity for local groups to participate in city-wide schemes. Its clear that in order to build on this the groups need consistent longer-term schemes that give space for novel community engagement approaches to emerge and flourish.”
There is a short write up (including a video) about Ed Davey’s visit here.
Letter from Re:work to Ed Davey
Dear Mr Davey,
I have been asked by the Bristol Energy Network (BEN) to put together some information relating specifically to the experiences of small community organisations trying to engage with the Green Deal, and more specifically, organisations operating in deprived areas of Bristol.
Re:work is a small social enterprise and registered charity operating in Knowle West in South Bristol. Our staff team of 12 together with a number of volunteers provide goods and services to one of the most deprived areas in England and we directly serve around 500 families and individuals per year, positively affecting many others by the outcomes we achieve. For more information see www.reworkltd.org.uk .
Fuel poverty is a huge issue in Knowle West.
For this reason, our board is encouraging us to find a way to engage with the Green Deal as a broker between local householders and the Green Deal delivery agents, i.e. corporate Green Deal Assessors, Installers and Providers.
In order for us as a small organisation to engage with the Green Deal/ECO in this way, we believe it necessary to train some of our staff members to become registered Green Deal Assessors, and maybe to add specialist GD installers at a later date.
It appears, however, that engaging with the Green Deal, for an organisation like ourselves, is very difficult, and that there are a number of barriers holding us back:
- Courses for people (who are not yet EPC assessors) to become Green Deal Assessors cost around £1,200 per person, if we can get enough people to fill a whole course at the same time. This may seeem like a small amount of investment capital, but for the size of operation we are, this is a barrier at this time –as we can’t be sure of being able to repay any loans with subsequent GD assessment income.
- Together with our partners in the area, we are positive we could mobilise the whole neighbourhood to be interested in reducing their fuel bills and engage with the Green Deal Agenda, but we have no resources to coordinate this effort at the start. Once we are started, we can develop methods of co-financing our work in deprived areas with offereing work experience and assessment opportunities in less deprived areas of the city.
- The system in place is one that relies on payment-by results, i.e. you get paid when you identify households willing to have an assessment arrried out. This can work once a system is in place, but can not work at the community level necessary at this stage, as the up-front costs are too high and unpredictable for an organisation like ours to cope with. The neighbourhood needs to be ‘warmed up’ to the opportunities the Green Deal and its subdivisions can offer!
So, what are we asking?
1. Accreditation:In the first instance, we would like to see 2 of Re:work’s staff members and 2 staff members of another 9 community groups willing to become GD brokers trained to become GD Assessors. This would mean striking a deal with City of Bristol College or another teaching organisations to teach a class of 20 people (from 10 organisations) for a suitable price. The organisations themselves can work toward GD accreditation in the meantime or have the assessors register with an umbrella organisation.
2. Coordination:We would like to be able to develop a network of ‘Green Deal Brokers’ assisting householders locally and see funding be made available to enable this to happen. The Bristol Energy Network, in line with its Energy Strategy, is likely to play an important part in this – together with the other partners with energy agendas round the table with you today .
3. Equality:To enable the least affluent parts of our city to spend as little on their fuel bills as their more affluent counterparts, BCC may decide put investment in the form of funding to emerging GD broker organisations. Householders will be able to compete with the rest of the city in terms of their decision making and investment capabilities if they have an imformed, trusted, local organisation at hand assiting them on the way. If an organisation was given £25k to fund a part time position specific to the task and £5k to contribute to furthering the project in other ways, this could lead to 1,000 households having taken up the Green Deal over 3 years. Years 2 and 3 could be financed differently, as installers and providers become more willing to pay local organisations for assessments and referrals.
If you have any further questions, please get in touch.
Thank you very much for your consideration,
07739 284 741