BHESCo making it easy for communities to take action on climate change

by Guest Author Spotlight on Community Energy Author - Dan Curtis Energy

Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-op (BHESCo) are a not-for-profit social enterprise who are dedicated to helping homeowners, schools and businesses in Sussex to meet their daily needs with low-cost, low-carbon energy.

Since 2015, BHESCo have completed more than 50 projects which reduce energy costs and carbon emissions for their customers. They estimate that over the course of their lifetime these projects will reduce CO2 emissions by 5,478 tonnes, which is the same environmental impact as avoiding 6,040 flights from London to New York.

BHESCo solar project at Brighton Road Baptist Church, Jan 2020

In addition to the obvious environmental benefits of these projects, BHESCo estimate that by producing their own clean energy and by improving the energy efficiency of their buildings, customers stand to save nearly £2 million collectively on their energy costs.

All of BHESCo’s projects are completed at no upfront cost to customers using what they call a ‘Pay As You Save’ finance model. What this means is that BHESCo install brand new energy saving or generating technologies on behalf of their customers, who then repay the upfront cost over a number of years using a portion of the savings achieved in their monthly energy bill.

In this way, everyone can take action on climate change without the obstacles of prohibitive costs or a lack of technical expertise.

To finance the initial cost of their projects, BHESCo raise money through a community share offer. Residents from across the UK are invited to become investors in the co-operative in return for a 5% annual interest rate and a say in how the co-operative is run.

Since their first share offer in June 2015 BHESCo have successfully raised over £1 million in this way and now have more than 300 shareholder members.

As well as their activities within the ‘able to pay’ market, BHESCo also do a great amount of work tackling fuel poverty in Brighton and Hove. Since it was first launched in January 2016, BHESCo’s Energy Saving Service has delivered free home energy improvement surveys to more than 650 local residents who struggle to heat their home.

Each winter, BHESCo also runs outreach events for foodbanks, job centres, and other community groups around the city, providing free advice on switching and fuel benefits. They have advised more than 2,000 residents in the last five years, achieving combined savings of £194,138 for some of Brighton and Hove’s most low-income residents.

Commenting on the remarkable progress that the business has achieved in the last five years, BHESCo’s founder and CEO, Kayla Ente, said: “What we have achieved over these past five years has exceeded all expectations. We just raised our first £1 million of investment, and the co-op keeps going from strength to strength.

The community energy industry has changed a lot since I founded BHESCo in 2015, especially with the loss of the Feed-In-Tariff, but we have been able to adapt successfully and are now focussing much more on providing low-carbon heating solutions for our customers, which is a priority in the UK if we are to realise our goal of net zero emisions”.

Find out more about BHESCo on the website here.

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