Establishing a group
Starting a community energy group can be a rewarding activity that delivers real impact on both social and environmental issues. When thinking about establishing a group it is important to understand a few key points before you get started -
- What do you want the group to achieve?
- Are there any other similar community groups in the area working towards a similar aim?
- Why have other groups succeeded or failed and can any lessons be learned before starting a project?
Running a community energy project needs the drive and leadership of an individual or small group of people to succeed. This founding group will often create the initial idea and then develop it to create a vision of what the project will look like. This creates a strong foundation for a larger community group to develop over time.
The size and make-up of the community group will naturally be influenced by the scope of the project. The 'establishing a community group' toolkit explores these topics in more detail and includes information on the following topics -
Formalising the group - defining who will be involved and how to define the objectives.
Skills requirements - from the beginning to the end of the project, each stage will require a definitive set of skills. This is examined in more detail to help groups understand what will be required from members and what may potentially need to be contracted out.
Community group legal structure - each type of legal framework is introduced with a view to helping establish the group correctly from the start. Each of these options are then discussed in the 'Legal and consents' section of the website. This can help you choose the right structure for your project, aims and group.
See Ricardo AEA's module on establishing groups to run community energy projects.
Community Energy England is the representative body for the community energy sector and provides free membership to start-up community energy groups.
The Ace for Communities website from NEF has a section on forming community energy groups.
The Energy Mentoring project provides support to community groups in the form of trained mentors. The site contains resources on community energy projects including advice guides, policy, publications and reports.
The Community Energy Practitioners' Forum allows charities and other non-profit organisations to share information and support community energy projects across the UK.
The My Community website from Locality has a range of guides and case study resources for neighbourhood planning which can be useful for community groups. Communities can receive bespoke advice on grants, technical support and procurement via a phone line and web chat.
Co-operatives UK provides expert support and guidance on the process of setting up co-operatives and developing existing businesses into co-operatives.