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Alan Simpson with his paper, Transformation Moment. Photo ZR

Alan Simpson with his paper, Transformation Moment. Photo ZR

Sustainability advisor backs 1066 Local Energy

Imagination, creativity and innovation. Intrinsic elements for our shared future. And elements encapsulated deep in the heart of 1066 Local Energy’s vision for Hastings and St Leonards on Sea for clean electricity generation. Alan Simpson, advisor on sustainability to the Shadow Cabinet and committed renewable clean energy advocate was the main speaker at a pre-launch gathering held at The Beacon, adding his enthusiastic support to the evolution of locally owned, lower priced energy production where the money generated would stay within the local community. HOT’s Zelly Restorick reports.

The 1066 Local Energy vision is to produce energy locally via solar panels on the roofs of churches, schools, homes and businesses, where the energy is locally owned, shared and stored – and any money generated, remains within and supports the local economy, creating jobs, opportunities for innovation and a sustainable, secure future. All entirely possible. Within reach. A vision that can become a reality.

In June of this year, Alan Simpson, who The New Statesman called ‘the man most likely to come up with ideas’, produced a pamphlet called Transformation Moment: Can Britain Make It To The Age Of Clean?, laying out his vision for a radical change in Britain’s energy future. He sees us at the edge of brave new accountable, inclusive and sustainable world – and he believes the people of Hastings and St Leonards on Sea can be part of this innovative solution to the threat of climate change.

“Only transformative change – in the way we think, act, live and work – stands any chance of limiting tomorrow’s climate crises.” Transformation Moment: Alan Simpson

Are you hopeful for the future?, was my first question. Yes, Simpson answered, although he added that he can understand why some people might either be in denial of climate change or live in a state of pessimism because the crisis simply seems too huge to contemplate and why not, therefore, block it out and just get on with life? However, others have a sense of hope and optimism. Citizens around the world are creating change by joining together with the shared vision of a clean energy future. “The locus of power has shifted – to the local, at a rate that is almost faster than we can keep up with: recycling, localisation of food, infrastructure of clean transport and clean energy production.”

In Transformation Moment (see link below), numerous energising, heartening and optimism-inducing examples are given, clearly demonstrating how this change has taken – and is taking – place, regardless of what national governments, regulatory bodies and corporations might be advocating. People power. Making a positive difference.

quote-the-present-moment-contains-past-and-future-the-secret-of-transformation-is-in-the-way-nhat-hanh-125-85-75

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

“We need to lighten our footprint on this planet – the only one we have – rather than exacerbate the problem,” said Simpson. “The more people are included, the more they feel part of the solution rather than part of the problem. In many ways, this is not just about an energy revolution, but also a democratic revolution, re-connecting people and public accountability.

“It’s a moment in time when the old order is broken beyond repair. The current models we have don’t work. We all need – whatever age we are – to think afresh, construct new market rules and mechanisms to get us out of the mess we’re in. This is a challenging, scary and exciting time, but we need to grab this opportunity and clean up our act.”

Cost effectiveness? Economically viable? Simpson talks of how the German economy and employment has flourished since the switch to clean energy with many jobs in energy generation and energy saving created – and how, once the public see themselves as stakeholders, any political party has to follow or lose votes. Whereas in the UK, the Treasury has subsidised fossil fuels, supported fracking and nuclear power – and the solar tariffs introduced by Simpson will come to an end in 18 month’s time.

And for those who say: what would happen if there’s no sun? No wind? The technological innovations in energy storage are putting an end to these fears.

One cannot help but question why our government, Ofgem, The National Grid and the major energy companies are not in support of a move to renewable clean energy, which surely is simple common sense on all sorts of levels? Currently, citizens and communities have no right of local supply. Energy can be sold to the National Grid, but to but it back, a much higher rate is paid. And in order to sell generated energy, a license is needed, which can cost between £2 – £3 million. However, in Brighton and Hove, local energy supporters have found ways round the system – and this is similarly possible for Hastings and St Leonards on Sea.

Simpson has long been an advocate for those living in poor conditions and affected by poverty – and fuel poverty and warm homes are intrinsic to his vision. Those people who are unable to afford solar panels would still benefit from the local energy generation system by being able to buy their energy at a cheaper rate from local suppliers, including those on key meters.

Richard Watson, Director of Energise Sussex Coast and Alan Simpson

Richard Watson, Director of Energise Sussex Coast and Alan Simpson

Simpson talks of the times in the past where energy development systems were managed locally and 50% of an area’s income came from utility services. Government funding wasn’t necessary. Profits built parks, libraries, museums – symbolising the socialisation of wealth.

And he talked enthusiastically of the innovations that emerge from such a shift in direction, as new technological developments combined with creative thinking and innovation open up vital new sustainable possibilities.

“What is needed is wholesale societal changes,” said Simpson. “We have to get out of our comfort zones.” This seems to be an essential element: our individual and collective ability and openness to change.

“We need to change UK market rules… break the chains of our regulatory system to create the opportunities that other countries already enjoy. To not be in the grip of the big energy companies – and to look beyond our own boundaries to what other countries are doing… unleash an innovation momentum. We can raise standards… create a different economy. Around the world, thousands of towns and cities are saying to their national leaders: we can deliver better answers and solutions – you’re the ones who have to catch up.”

Energy efficiency and wisdom also seem to me to be common sense. To see energy as the precious resource it is and not take it for granted.

1066 Local Energy officially launches this Sunday (10 September) with The Big Happy Sun Day at The Stade (see below). You’re invited to go along and be there at this transformation moment in the life of Hastings and St Leonards on Sea.

1066 Local Energy is supported by Energise Sussex Coast, Citizens Advice 1066, Transition Town Hastings, The Seaview Project and the Diocese of Chichester with £1.7m funding from Climate Active Neighbourhoods (CAN) and Sustainable Houses in Inclusive Neighbourhoods (SHINE).

Read Transformation Moment here.

Previous HOT article: Local energy for local people.

Big Happy Sun Day

Big Happy Sun Day

 

 

 

Posted 18:10 Wednesday, Sep 6, 2017 In: Energy Wise

1 Comment


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  1. Susannah Bartlett

    Very interesting to read that a past model of local power supply effectively supported devt.of towns. Great article.Good luck on Sunday.

    Comment by Susannah Bartlett — Thursday, Sep 7, 2017 @ 08:18

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