The Answers Right Under Our Nose

  • by Agamemnon Otero, Founding Director C.E.O, Repowering & Brixton Energy
  • Sep 30, 2013
  • 0 comments

Residents on gas and electricity in Lambeth shill £167 million out every year. That’s pushing over a £170 billion year from UK Residents to multinational energy companies for this little island.

Can some of that money stay here? Yes. We have the resources to generate our energy in our own energy infrastructure right here right now. There is 7 £trillion pounds of housing stock in the UK: 2 trillion pounds is homeowner owned, while 3 trillion is owned by Local Authorities and trust.  We could very easily galvanize our citizens to develop and own all of our energy assets.

No one really wants coal, oil or fracked gas; most of us know about anthropogenic climate change and all of us experience rising fuel bills.
People know exactly what the problems are around tax and what is going on with multination energy company profits, but feel helpless to change this current situation.

Repowering was developed to give people the ability to do something ‐ as modest as clicking on a computer and investing some money in renewable energy generation, or as active as getting involved with social aims of the local community. Repowering gives people who feel marginalized in the current job market, the opportunity to say, “Oh I am respected, I can be part of this, I can invest in a project or I can wade further in if I want.  I can put my child or nephew into a work experience… I can help my neighbor or grandmother be warmer”.

All of a sudden and most importantly, progressively, you have a group of citizens who feel that what they say and what they do has an impact on their lives and their community.

There aren’t smarter and dumber people; there are people that have been helped to realize that they can affectively share in a common goal; what they say is heard, and matters.
Yeah, Repowering is getting behavior change and energy fuel bills reduced, but that’s not  the primary goal. Repowering’s goal is to enable people to feel empowered, - to repower communities and create local energy in two forms: renewable energy and community energy.

When social responsible finance, work experience/training, and community engagement around fuel poverty come together with a viable revenue stream from renewable energy, Repowering gets a buzz going.
Modest as our projects are, Repowering supports a movement where finance sits inside the community and the community sits inside the environment.

Big energy companies are structured in ways that drain communities of the little freedom they have. Fiduciary responsibility to share-holders has fossil fuel pumping its way to our needs while keeping renewable energy subsidy dwarfed by corporate tax incentives.

Working in a cooperative way to create and uphold community values builds trust and strength as the transparency of the money-flow stays in neighborhood and in the country. Having the empowered community’s own children getting work experience and using the electricity wins hearts and minds.

“I was motivated to get involved in the project because it is funded by local residents rather than a company I had never heard of. Having completed the work experience, I now really want to tell others about solar energy. I think we need to be less reliant on expensive energy providers, who have increased their prices for electricity and gas recently.”- Inca Williams

There is of course voices of concern on from both sides of the energy generation debate saying “200 billion needed in infrastructure… We were hours away from black outs. Renewables can’t generate when we need them.”

This is not an us vrs. them argument; it highlights a need for readjustment. Big numbers are scary until you break them up. Break our needs into individual communities and we can tackle the capital investments.
Yes, some sections of the country like Scotland and Wales are producing some good amounts of energy. You could say, they are overproducing and sending it down the super highway to Londoners while they gobble up green belts and green energy. We in London use 13.5% of the UK energy and just produce 2% of the energy and thus have a ways to go before we are overproducing.

So the hurdle is price and product. Repowering is not here to argue its marriage to solar panels or CHP. It wedded to wellbeing, to empowering or repowering communities to create local energy in its two forms: community energy and renewable energy. The buck stops there. We can move towards a different system and as soon as you start doing it, it will happen everywhere.

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