Plymouth Energy Community was the result of a pledge by the City’s Labour and Co-operative Council
Councillor Chris Penberthy commented; “Plymouth Energy Community has been a flagship development from our 2012 manifesto. It was important to us that we commissioned a delivery partner that could work from our co-operative principles and value base; would guarantee real community buy in and ownership; would deliver our spec to time and budget; and would leave us with a suitable business model.
CAG proved to be an ideal partner and undoubted right choice.
They supported, cajoled, listened, encouraged and gave us a co-op that our members want to drive forward. PCC and PEC are very grateful for that dedicated professional support we received from CAG.”
Throughout 2013 CAG and its partners worked with the City Council to establish the co-op.
Plymouth Energy Community is now thriving, with over 700 members. It has successfully established a new community focused approach to helping its members get the best energy tariff. It has also reached agreement to lead the development of the biggest private sector ECO scheme in the country, providing free and subsidised energy efficiency measures. It has also launched a community share offer (through PEC Renewables) which will install solar panels on schools and community buildings in the city.
CAG worked closely with staff and Councillors to deliver the pledge, which was achieved within 6 months. After undertaking an initial business plan, we also engaged other key partners such as housing associations and community groups to plan and develop the co-operative. As a co-op ourselves, we understood that the organisation had to be independent, trusted, and professional.
Therefore we worked on a number of different fronts to:
- Identify and engage a group of founder members who supported the aims of the co-op and would be prepared to participate in planning its development. After engagement with community groups and residents’ focus groups, an initial call for members led to 85 founder members signing up. Many of these participated in subsequent planning meetings.
- Formally establish the co-op and develop its organisational structures. We worked with local support organisation the Fruit Tree to ensure that the structure of the organisation was developed by its members and reflected their wishes for the organisation.
- Develop a distinctive image which would reflect its aims and ethos. We worked closely with our partners Knowledge to develop a distinctive branding and produce a marketing and communications strategy, a website and marketing materials.
- Plan and promote a community switching scheme which would save local people money and be accessible to those using prepayment meters and without internet access. Through our association with MyUtilityGenius we developed an alternative approach to switching which was launched in July 2013 and continues to offer savings to all Plymouth residents.
- Establish the ground for a community share offer. Those interested in finding out more about the solar share offer can visit Plymouth Energy Community or call 01752 477 117.
Plymouth Energy Community shows what is possible where a committed local authority is prepared to follow its principles and take an imaginative approach to improving the lives of local people. CAG is very pleased to have been involved in this project, and we wish PEC well for the future.