Britain’s biggest distribution network franchisee is pledging £1 million to help energy co-operatives & local groups scale up their Net Zero programmes.

Working with Lewes-based prize-winning co-operative Community Energy South (CES), the money from UK Power Networks will help as many as 20 community organisations & charities with grants of at least £50,000 in support of bill-payers in peril of falling behind in the nation’s transition to Net Zero.

UKPN believes energy groups including co-operatives play a key role in supporting vulnerable customers. This work will put boots on the ground, helping pay for local jobs for local people, towards a goal of reaching 20,000 people and conducting over 1,200 in-person home visits.

An award-winning not-for-profit consultancy providing mentoring to speed growth in the community energy sector, Community Energy South (CES) has been awarded funds to enlist and support the participating groups in delivering the work. This partnership will be crucial in ensuring the right support is established in the right places across London, the East and South East of England.

Six community energy groups are already on board and working on plans to recruit and expand their energy advice services. More groups will be coming online for the second phase starting in September.

Suleman Alli, UKPN’s director of finance & customer service, said: “We’re extremely proud to be able to support the impactful work of community energy groups across the areas we serve. We hope this funding boost will make a meaningful difference to those in our community and provide our customers with support and guidance to ensure no one is left behind in the transition to Net Zero.”

CES will provide fully funded bespoke training for new recruits to become ‘energy champions’, now a sought-after career opportunity within the community energy sector.

One energy champion already working in the area said: “I enjoy visiting homes and meeting people and being able to help them with ideas on how they can improve their home and spend less money – and help the environment too. It’s a win win! The training gave me the knowledge and confidence to be able to go out to people’s homes and talk to them about saving energy. The support from the leaders and wider group has been brilliant for when something different crops up.”

CES chief executive Ollie Pendered said: “This is a groundbreaking moment for the community energy sector.

“The intrinsic value of all the hard work by thousands of volunteers across the country has been recognised, and through this campaign up to 20 community energy groups will have the opportunity to receive funding to create local job opportunities and deliver their energy saving campaigns within their communities. This is an extraordinary development and one we thank UK Power Networks for enabling.”

CES has previously worked with UKPN on their Energy Smart Communities  social venture, enabling infrastructure development to leave a lasting legacy which builds more resilient communities.

With a showcase project in the capital’s Leicester Square theatreland, Energy Smart Communities looks at innovative ways to develop community energy projects, raises awareness and provides support for those in fuel poverty and improves knowledge and skills in sustainable living through educational programmes with partners.


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