Plymouth City Council (PCC) recognised the potential for a community organisation to play a key role in delivering local solutions addressing a largely inefficient housing stock and 15,400 households in fuel poverty. In 2013, they supported the start-up of independent Community Benefit Society, Plymouth Energy Community (PEC). The collaboration between Plymouth City Council and PEC has attracted in excess of £6,500,000 inward investment to the city to tackle fuel poverty and carbon emissions. Over 11,000 households have benefitted from PEC’s services supporting residents to access grants to clear energy debt, improve health by improving homes, free and assisted insulation and heating, energy advice, energy awareness training for volunteers and frontline staff, energy-focused apprenticeships, tariff switching and a new programme assisting disabled residents to stay warm and well. 33 solar installations have been community funded, generating enough clean energy to meet the needs of 1500 homes and saving schools and organisations £90,000 per year.

This is enabled by PCC’s hosting of PEC’s staff resource on a shared expertise basis, provision of £1,000,000 in loan finance to support PEC’s first share offers and facilitation of host community buildings for solar roofs. PCC created Four Greens Community Trust, a local economic development trust to benefit four of Plymouth’s most deprived neighbourhoods. They set aside land and property as assets for the trust to utilise, including derelict land in Ernesettle. PCC provided PEC with support from its Social Enterprise Investment Fund to allow feasibility and business planning for a 4.1MW solar array on the site. Built using short-term finance, PEC are maximising community benefit through a community share raise and £2,800,000 loan from PCC. Generating enough energy to meet the annual needs of 1000 homes, and allowing community ownership, this array will generate £600,000 rental income for FGCT and approximately £2,900,000 for PEC’s work fighting fuel poverty.

Local Authority Partner Award winner - Michael Leaves of Plymouth City Council
and Jenny Coles of PEC 
with sponsor Anne-Claire Leydier of Northern Powergrid

Councillor Michael Leaves, Cabinet Member for Streetscene and the Environment, said: “We are absolutely delighted to get this national recognition for this fantastic local project. PEC is one of Plymouth’s great local success stories and as a Council we are fully behind the aims of both PEC and PEC Renewables, its sister community benefit society. We’re immensely proud of the work Alistair and his team have achieved in Plymouth and are delighted that his work has been recognised with the Community Energy Champion award”.

This award was sponsored by Northern Powergrid.