Plymouth City Council shortlisted for national award for community energy support

Local schools are among those to benefit from the community share offer.

Local schools are among those to benefit from the community share offer.

Plymouth City Council has been shortlisted for a national award for its community energy collaboration in the city.

The Council is a finalist in the Innovation in Finance category at the MJ Awards for its work with Plymouth Energy Community (PEC).

PEC, which the Council helped to establish in June 2013 with a start-up grant and loan and continues to support, is a Community Benefit Society owned and run by its’ members. It aims to help residents transform how they buy, use and generate power in the city. By helping people access more affordable warmth, PEC’s aims align with recommendations from the Fairness Commission.

National recognition for this partnership is thanks largely to PEC’s innovative community solar scheme. PEC set up PEC Renewables in 2014 and has since funded and installed solar PV on 21 schools and community buildings, using Council loan finance and by offering the community the opportunity to purchase shares. Through their current share offer they hope to raise £950,000 to build Plymouth’s largest solar roof on Plymouth Life Centre and also up to five more schools.

The scheme increases the amount of locally-owned renewable energy in Plymouth, gives investors a fair return and generates a community benefit fund of £1.2million over 20 years for PEC to continue to address fuel poverty and carbon emissions in the City. Anyone over 16 years of age can purchase shares, from £50.

Tracey Lee, Chief Executive of Plymouth City Council said: “PEC is one of Plymouth City Council’s great success stories and we are delighted to be a finalist with PEC for the MJ Awards, one of the most prestigious national awards for local authorities.”

The LIFE Centre is one of many community buildings taking part in the second share offer.

The LIFE Centre is one of many community buildings taking part in the second share offer.

Alistair Macpherson, Chief Executive of PEC, said: “It is fantastic that the Council has been shortlisted for this national award for its work with PEC. PCC should be applauded for enabling the creation of PEC and providing loan finance for community owned solar power.  Many other areas are now following Plymouth’s lead.”

Achievements since PEC was launched include:

  • In its first year, PEC’s Fuel Debt Advice Service has cleared more than £70,000 of fuel bill debt, from more than 350 referrals.
  • Promoted insulation schemes to 23,000 households in Plymouth. Measures already installed are expected to save residents over £750,000 and reduce heating bills by up to one third (average £260 per year per household).
  • Trained 30 volunteer energy champions with Our Plymouth who have so far supported over 280 residents. These volunteer now form PEC’s ‘Energy Team’, providing free home energy advice visits.
  • Provided an energy tariff advice and switching service to more than 600 households.”
  • Awards already won by PEC and its sister organisation PEC Renewables, which provides locally-owned renewable energy installations include the 2014 UK Social Enterprise ‘Investment Deal of the Year’, 2014 Regen SW Green Energy Award for ‘Best Community Initiative’, and the 2014 Abercrombie Award for ‘Best Green Project’.

The MJ Awards are organised by the Municipal Journal and will be held on Friday 22 June.