Localise West Midlands’ board member Phil Beardmore, environmental consultant, circulated news of his attendance at the launch of the Confederation of Co-operative Housing, which is forming a partnership with Co-op Energy. Read more here.

Kevin McGrother of the Co-operative News writes about another proposed co-operative energy project. The Horizon Energy Co-operative, with European funding, plans to work in partnership with social housing providers across North-West England to establish a microgrid capable of producing electricity and using its surpluses to help those tenants most at risk of fuel poverty.

It is described as the brainchild of Andrew Melchior, Managing Director of energy consultancy the EIF Partnership. He explains: “There was a call from the European Union in North-West England for submissions to stimulate micro power generation in social housing. We were interested in the potential of a co-operative model involving social housing providers that could aggregate energy from properties across the region.” 

A three-year pilot project is proposed, involving homes in Stockport, Rochdale, Bury and Oldham and, potentially, three different power sources — solar, combined heat and power units and hydro. 

The Seven Sisters tower blocks in Rochdale already have solar panels installed

Housing providers will come together to establish a microgrid, a form of small-scale power generation, which will contribute to meeting the government’s target of generating 15% of total energy from renewables by 2020 (the level achieved in 2009 being just 2%). 

Horizon will be part of the government’s new feed-in tariffs scheme. The scheme offers small-scale electricity generators three separate financial benefits:

  • a generation tariff for all the electricity produced;
  • an export tariff for electricity exported to the grid
  • and, for when electricity produced is lower than that required, an import tariff resulting in lower bills from an electricity supplier 

Mr Melchior feels the town’s 19th-century pioneers of co-operation would approve of Horizon’s 21st-century plans:

“In much the same way that the Rochdale Pioneers came together to tackle poverty by providing good quality, affordable food to local people, Horizon will be tackling fuel poverty by helping those residents on low incomes who struggle most to heat their homes. It is about using a co-operative model to deliver necessities to people in need.”

Horizon’s progress will be watched with interest. 

Read the article here.