Winner of the Observer’s 2015 Ethical Award, the Community Benefit Society is one of Plymouth’s success stories. Formed by local residents in 2013 with support from Plymouth City Council, the organisation is delivering fuel poverty services to support residents with the energy issues they face today, whilst developing community-owned renewable energy to create the fair, green energy system we want for the future.
Now 1200 members strong, they worked quickly to establish partnerships to provide services supporting residents to access grants to clear energy debt, helping improve the health of those with cold and damp-related medical conditions by improving their homes, free and assisted insulation and heating, energy and fuel poverty awareness training for volunteers and front-line staff, energy-focused apprenticeships and tariff switching. Their Energy Team service, providing home visits to those who need it most, has evolved to assist anyone with a physical disability, those with a mental health need or learning disability. PEC have already helped over 11,200 households, saving over £341,000 from fuel bills and clearing £195,000 of energy debt for residents really struggling.
Establishing PEC Renewables in 2014, they have raised nearly £2 million in community shares; providing free solar PV panels to 32 schools and community buildings and building a 4.1MW ground-mounted solar array on derelict land. Host organisations are already saving £90,000 a year in reduced energy bills. Surplus income from this locally-owned renewable energy generation provides long-term funding to support their grassroots work addressing fuel poverty and carbon emissions.