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 or call TRESOC on 01803 867431. And come to the talk! Places are limited to please book, again by emailing



FREE Moth Events in August

We are hosting three FREE family-friendly moth events in August, in conjunction with Art & Energy Collective’s Moths To A Flame project. The project invites people to think about their relationship with energy, ahead of COP26 in Glasgow later this year, and to record their message of hope to the delegates.

10th August – The Moth’s Whisper Book Reading by Miranda Barlow
2pm @ St John’s Church, Bridgetown, Totnes
There will be a free moth activity pack for every child who attends

Come and join KEVICC alumni writer and illustrator Miranda Barlow at St John’s Church in Bridgetown for a reading of her book The Moth’s Whisper*, followed by an augmented reality moth-making session with a moth colouring sheet. Your drawings will be brought to life using the QuiverVision App and you can record a selfie with your own whisper of hope for the future, then share it online using #MothsToAFlame.

The Moth’s Whisper was specially commissioned for Moths to a Flame. It follows the journey of Marny, a newly emerged Yellow Underwing moth as she emerges from her pupa and discovers the world of humans as she journeys in search of the moon.

*The collective noun for moths is a whisper.

12th August – Family Moth-Making Event for a magnificent Climate Emergency mass-participation art installation for COP26, Glasgow
10am, 11am, 12 noon, 2pm, 3pm @ Totnes Civic Hall

  • Moth Making
  • Record a message for COP26

17th August – Moth Watching
8.30am @ Totnes Weir Hydro

  • Talk from a local moth expert
  • Tour of the Hydro Plant
  • Record a message for #COP26
  • Make observational drawings of moths using handmade oak gall ink

Please pre-register for all events, to register please email

Places will be given out on a first come first served basis

Do we need wind turbines and solar parks? Or should we just use less energy?

A frequent reason quoted for refusing or dismissing any new wind turbine applications, is that if we reduced demand for energy, then there would be no need to build any and we could carry on as we are. Is this a rational claim?

Firstly, there is still a growing need to produce electricity. Our current grid generation is based on fossil fuels, that are finite and becoming increasingly costly to source in the quantities required. So even in a basic economic sense, maintaining our vulnerability to foreign fuel markets that are becoming more and more competitive, is not sensible. What we need is a mix of sources, with a preference for local generation, to improve energy security.

Secondly, reducing demand is thought to be easier and faster than changing how we generate energy. The new Green Deal and ECO funding policy is designed to transform the energy efficiency industry in the UK. Our poor housing state, increasing fuel poverty and spiralling energy bills make these new mechanisms more and more vital. The reduction in costs for consumers and businesses can be a massive incentive and once a few pioneers in a street make the investment (e.g. external wall insulation), others will follow. Delay and media speculation has damaged the industry, but the drivers are growing and it will be only a matter of time until the step change takes hold.
The technologies involved in energy efficiency improvements take days or weeks to install, compared to months, and more likely years, for low carbon energy generation, so it’s not a case of one or the other – both need to be tackled. We can’t rely on either to deliver the savings required.

We should attempt to ensure is that the energy generation that does occur locally is directly benefiting the community. The best way to provide that is through local ownership – which is what TRESOC amongst the National Trust, Cooperatives UK, forum for the future, and many others, is campaigning for, in the Community energy manifesto. We have been making our voices heard at the heart of government and the signs and sounds from ministers are encouraging. Hopefully a community energy revolution is appearing as a viable alternative to the current stale condition.

Beyond Megawatts – the social significance of community energy

My generation and all of those following have little or no experience of blackouts. When we flick on a switch we expect the electricity to flow, with a lack of knowledge of where and how it is produced. As we become increasingly dependant on media and gadgets this reliance has hit record levels. If you were to ask a teenager today, to spend a few hours without electricity, the majority would be utterly incapable.

Modern life has distanced us from the production and impacts of what we rely on and in doing so, reduced how much we value it. This is particularly true for food, clothing, and electronics – but I want to focus on electricity.

One way to bridge this gap is through local generation. The idea being, if I can see electricity being generated, I am going to value it more. Add in the opportunity for people to not only view electricity being generated, but to directly benefit from it, and you get a sense of why community-scale renewable energy is such a powerful idea. From being dis-empowered uninterested consumers, we become active aware generators of electricity.

My enthusiasm for community energy first took hold when I read this and other scientific papers, but was reignited by a blog a read a few months ago. In short, community energy offers:

  1. A huge opportunity for our local economy to reduce the leakage – money flowing out. Local people benefiting from local resources.
  2. Improves our awareness of where our electricity comes from. This helps us to value it more and conserve.
  3. The ability for communities to take responsibility for some of their energy use by generating rather than consuming and contribute to a stronger more resilient society.

The current centralised national grid relies on a few large power stations, that are a large distance away, to keep the lights on. As our antique infrastructure struggles on, many power stations are being turned off – most recently Didcot coal power station in Oxfordshire. This looming gap of generation has to be filled somehow. Currently the easiest and cheapest option is onshore wind turbines. We want to retain the benefits locally, so Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC) was formed, with Totnes Community wind farm as its flagship project. There are other generation options available and we are actively investigating them.

We want to help build a renewable future at the community scale, which we can be proud of for years to come. There are strong economic and social benefits for us to cherish when we succeed.