Bright Sparks at Harbertonford Primary

TRESOC had an excellent time last week with Year 5s and 6s from Harbertonford Primary School. On Monday we spent the day visiting local renewable energy sites, including Marley Wind Turbine, Dartington Solar Farm, Dartington Wood Chip Boiler and Totnes Weir Hydro. The next day we returned to the classroom to explore the science behind these technologies, through a series of interactive workshops. The students were really engaged and asked some fantastic questions that got everybody thinking! 

Many thanks to Harbertonford Primary for taking part in our REEL (Renewable Energy Experiential Learning) programme, funded by the Energy Redress Scheme Grant for the Energy Local Totnes Project. Energy Local Totnes is a club for buying and selling locally generated renewable electricity at a fair price, saving local people money off their bills and paying local generators a better price. For more information: https://energylocal.org.uk/totnes

 

Marley Wind Turbine

 

Testing out mini solar panels in different locations

Clay Park Project Update

In this video, we discuss the Clay Park project by Transition Homes Community Land Trust and TRESOC. Our project aimed to showcase a new business model where a community energy company and a local housing developer could generate low-cost green electricity for affordable housing. The Rural Community Energy Fund awarded us grants to investigate and develop the project.

However, due to economic challenges such as the increased cost of materials after the pandemic and the energy crisis created by the war in Ukraine, the financial model for the project needed to be reworked. Transition Homes Community Land Trust partnered with Aster Housing Group. This has helped ensure the housing development can provide 100% affordable housing, but with a shift in how energy for the homes will be sourced, has meant there is no business case for a microgrid or TRESOC’s continued involvement.

TRESOC is extremely grateful to the Rural Community Energy Fund for its support. We continue to develop the microgrid model through our Energy Local Totnes project and hope to inspire other community energy groups to plan their own microgrids.

Energy Local Totnes Launch

On the 24th March TRESOC will proudly launch the South West’s first Smart Local Energy System, Energy Local Totnes (ELT), a new economic driver for the development of local renewable energy.

Energy Local CIC has been setting up clubs around the country that help create local markets for power. They designed technology that uses smart meter data to allow households to club together to show they are using local, clean power when it is generated. The households then agree a price with local generators that’s better for the generators as well as reducing their own bills. For more information on how Energy Local clubs work click here.

Green Energy (GE) UK are acting as the partner energy supplier who will ensure there is enough power for the households in the club when there is not enough local electricity generated.

Totnes Town Council have officially signed a GE UK contract to supply the excess from the 15kW solar PV array on the Civic Hall, into the club. GE UK are now doing the technical work that it takes to become their energy supply company. 35 people have already registered an interest in becoming part of the club, and these will be the first customers. GE UK will start to sign these customers over at the beginning of April.

The number of customers in the club needs to balance the amount of generation. Jem Friar, the Totnes Energy Local advisor will be responsible for this matching. To start with, we will be able to sign up 10-15 people, to use the power from the Civic. Soon after the club is in operation, Harrison’s Garage intend to join the club, as they have installed a new 30kW system on the roof of their garage. This should mean roughly another 15-20 people can join, depending on the modelling. As more generation joins the club, balanced by more customers, the club can grow. This is real innovation at work. It will be the first Energy Local Club in the country to be able to grow in this way.

Energy Local Totnes will be its own co-operative, and totally independent of TRESOC, although TRESOC will be a generator member. It will have its own board, made up of generator and consumer members, who will annually set the match price for the club. The match price is the price that the generator and consumer gets, when a consumer matches their energy demand to local generation.

This is a pilot scheme, so we are looking to test the Energy Local concept locally to make sure it really will save people money before we can roll it out on a larger scale. For the first year, only solar PV will be selling into the club. With the increased rate that generators receive for their electricity many new local renewable energy projects will become economically viable. This is something that TRESOC is working hard to explore and make the most of.

To read more about the prices that the club has set for energy use, and to find out more about registering your interest head to the Energy Local Totnes page.

AGM 2022

We are pleased to invite you to our Annual General Meeting at 7.00p.m. on Monday 14th November 2022. Members, friends and the public are welcome to attend, ask questions and help us develop our strategy for the year ahead – we’d like to welcome all of you!  Our goal – as always – is that you are aligned with, and endorse, the efforts we are making on your behalf.

The Directors’ Report and a summary of our latest Accounts to 31st March 2022 will be sent out to members prior to the AGM, or you can download them via the links below. A signed copy of the accounts has been submitted to the Financial Services Authority, and will be available here prior to the AGM. In order to attend, email admin@tresoc.co.uk to register and receive the link.

If you are a member and are unable to attend, it is vital you arrange a Proxy Vote. The Rules of TRESOC require 10% of members to vote at the AGM and, with 560 members, every vote counts. Please download and sign the Proxy Voting Form and put through the door at – or post to – TRESOC, 107 High Street, Totnes, TQ9 5SN, or scan and email to admin@tresoc.co.uk.

Can we reduce energy bills this winter?

With uncertainty around energy prices, the only practical thing, and within reasonable control of most households, is to try to reduce energy bills. Here are a few ideas on how to do that with some potentially social, as well as economic benefits:

  • Start a meal exchange with your neighbours – set a few days a week where you cook a meal and deliver it to them, and vice versa. This saves on time and energy, and if you eat it together even better.
  • Share lifts to work or to school.
  • Share or co-ordinate shopping trips or deliveries.
  • Turn off electrical equipment at the wall when not needed. Stand by modes still use a surprising amount of power.
  • Avoid using the tumble dryer
  • Turn off lights
  • Don’t over fill the kettle
  • Consider insulation and draft proofing – depending on your circumstances you might be eligible for grants. Visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
  • Plan meals and cut down on food waste (children beware!)

South Dartmoor Community Energy (SDCE) also have some good tips for staying warm without turning up your heating. Visit www.sdce.org.uk.

Is it time for a community energy revolution?

Community energy has never seemed so attractive. It is a way for people to take control of their local renewable energy resources, increase local resilience, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and support the local economy. In doing so, we can enhance community cohesion and tackle fuel poverty and with rising energy bills this autumn, we need this now more than ever.

Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC) is one of many Devon based renewable energy companies, owned and operated by the local community. It raises money to develop energy projects through a community share-offer, which ensures that any profits are kept within the local economy. For more information, visit our website www.tresoc.co.uk, or for your local group visit www.devoncommnunityenergy.org.uk.

TRESOC currently has a grant from Devon County Council (Team Devon’s COVID -19 Economic Recovery and Business Prospectus Funding) to establish an Energy Local Club to sell locally generated renewable electricity to local people at a reduced price, effectively establishing Totnes’ own renewable energy marketplace. Within an Energy Local Club (ELC), households and small businesses pay a lower price for electricity if they use the renewable energy from local generators, when it is generated; the customer pays less, and the generator receives more (contrary to belief, small generators, such as TRESOC are not receiving windfall prices for the electricity they produce). TRESOC is working with Energy Local CIC to develop the project. Energy Local have 12 community projects across England and Wales, all helping to reduce the price of electricity for local people.

At the national level, Power to the People is campaigning for the Local Electricity Bill, which if made law, would enable community energy groups to sell renewable electricity directly to local people. For more information and to sign the petition, go to their website: powerforpeople.org.uk

Energy price hikes next month will make this a harsh winter for many. We’ve got tips to help. 

Pictured: Sally Murrall-Smith, TRESOC Operations Director

Introducing our new Energy Local Coordinator

We have now appointed an Energy Local Advisor/co-ordinator, Jem Friar, who will be responsible for establishing the Energy Local Totnes Co-operative. If people want to register their interest, they can go onto the Energy Local Totnes page on the Energy Local website: Totnes | Energy Local.

Jem will be working on the project for approximately 6 months. The project has been made possible thanks to grant funding received by TRESOC from Devon County Council to establish an Energy Local Club to buy locally generated renewable energy, which will then be sold through the club at a discounted rate. Local people and businesses will be invited to join the club to benefit from reduced cost electricity and Jem will be working alongside Energy Local CIC to support the club.

REEL success at St. Christopher’s School, Staverton

We were delighted to work with students at St. Christopher’s School n Staverton last month as part of our REEL programme – Renewable Energy Experiential Learning.

The programme includes student-led critical thinking around our global need for energy and takes place over 2 days. It involves site visits to see real technologies in action to produce renewable energy, followed by a making day in school, creating our own versions of renewable energy technology designs through arts and craft. It took place on 15th and 16th June.

Headmistress, Alexandra Cottell says;
“The children at St. Christopher’s hugely benefit from the input they have from the REEL project. Both the field trip and the on-site learning are very engaging and offer an excellent hands-on approach to STEM learning.”

On the field trip day we visited the Marley Head Wind Turbine, thanks to South Brent Community Energy; the Solar Farm and Woodfuel Boiler on the Dartington Estate, thanks to Dartington Trust; and the Totnes Weir Hydro thanks to Dart Renewables.

On the making day, we ran 3 workshops, solar, wind and hydro (experimenting with solar circuits, lemon batteries, multi meters, making Archimedes Screws and Savonious wind turbines).

Each REEL project supports joined up skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). REEL is now in its 5th year, has been delivered for free to over 10 schools and over 260 children have taken part.

Welcome to Hannah Slade, TRESOC’s new Legal Director.

Hannah is a Senior Associate at Foot Anstey solicitors and is a member of their dispute resolution team specialising in property litigation. Her key areas of interest include enforceability of restrictive covenants and easements.

Hannah works for clients across a variety of sectors including large retailers, high net worth individuals, and landed estates. In all cases she aims to provide clear and practical advice to clients and enjoys tailoring this advice to suit each client whether they’re a multi-national company or an individual.

Sadly, Stephanie Burns has had to step down due to time commitments, but we are very grateful to her for her support over the last 2 years.

Find out more about who’s who at TRESOC on the About Us page

Energy Local Totnes Coordinator

TRESOC is seeking an Energy Local Totnes Co-ordinator, to work with the team on the Totnes Energy Club. Approx. 100 hours’ work undertaken over the project set-up time (anticipated to be approx. 6 months to 1 year, beginning in June 2022). Please send applications to admin@tresoc.co.uk by 12.00 noon, 10th June 2022.

TRESOC has received grant funding from Devon County Council to establish an Energy Local Club to buy locally generated renewable energy, which will then be sold through the club at a discounted rate. Local people and businesses will be invited to join the club to benefit from reduced cost electricity. The co-ordinator will be responsible for membership and work with Energy Local CIC to support the club. The successful candidate will receive training at the end of June.

Role Description:

Scope of work:
Activities of the Energy Local Co-ordinator

  • Attend one face to face and one online training day with Energy Local C.I.C.
  • Create a local marketing and engagement plan to recruit the required number of households and small businesses to the Energy Local Club.
  • Create promotional materials and information based on resources supplied by Energy Local C.I.C.
  • Management of the Energy Local portal; creating a Club page on the portal and using the portal to monitor and manage registrations to the Club.
  • Informing and corresponding with potential Club members; in person, via phone and email and sending bulk communications using MailChimp.
  • Recruit Co-operative Directors to represent the Club and work with Energy Local to register the Co-operative with the FCA.
  • Adhere to Energy Local ethos and guidance when using the Energy Local Toolkit, portal and Dashboard.
  • Ensure sensitive participant information is kept in accordance with data protection legislation including GDPR.

Energy Local Talk Tuesday 15th March, 6-7pm

We’re delighted to be hosting Mary Gillie, Founder and Director of Energy Local, for a talk at the REconomy Centre in Totnes on Tuesday 15th March, between 6-7pm. Energy Local is a Community Interest Company transforming the electricity market for communities and small-scale renewable generators. Their mission is to help communities get more value from small-scale renewable generation by using the electricity locally. Thanks to a grant of £25,000 from Team Devon’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Business Prospectus Funding, TRESOC will be developing up to five new community-owned rooftop solar PV installations in Totnes. These will combine to establish an Energy Local Club in Totnes (Energy Local Totnes) to buy the electricity generated, effectively establishing Totnes’s own renewable energy marketplace. Within an Energy Local Club, householders and small businesses pay a lower price for electricity if they use renewable energy from local generators when it is generated; the customer pays less, and the generator receives more. Right now, people living near renewables purchase the electricity back for three or four times the price the generator is paid for it.

There are many community and environmental benefits to an ELC. The community benefits from reducing fuel poverty by selling energy affordably and allowing locally owned generators more control over pricing, all keeping the profits in the local economy. The environment benefits by customers reducing their reliance on fossil fuels.

TRESOC are looking for five large south-facing roofs – they could be a school, a row of terraces or an industrial building – and for householders and businesses to join the Club and use the green, local, cheaper energy. They are also looking for someone to train as an energy advisor and to run the club. This will be a paid, part time role with flexible hours so would suit a parent with young children. In addition, volunteers will be needed to support setting up the Club and to be members of the Energy Local Totnes board.

TRESOC will own and operate the solar PV on each of the 5 sites (approximately 250kW, enough to power to boil 250 kettles at peak output) and will raise the capital to install the panels through a community share-offer, which means all profits from the scheme will return to the local economy. The occupiers of each site will have a Power Purchase Agreement with TRESOC for the energy used on site and any excess electricity will be sold into the Energy Local Club within the local substation area. The scheme will be supported by Energy Local CIC, who have established several Clubs in England and Wales. Totnes Energy Local Club will be the first to allow local small businesses to take part. Once the Club is established new generators can join, balanced by new customers, and the club can continue to grow. To take part generators and members of the club need to sign up to the same energy tariff, an Energy Local Tariff, that is currently being provided by Octopus Energy.

Anyone who would like to be involved in the Club, as an energy advisor, a member, a board member, or who knows of a large south facing roof, please email admin@tresoc.co.uk or call TRESOC on 01803 867431. And come to the talk! Places are limited to please book, again by emailing admin@tresoc.co.uk.