RX Energy joins ESC


Community run RX Energy has been considering how to move forward with its plan to harness energy (solar panels), improve energy efficiency and help people out of fuel poverty in recent months. There are still millions of rented homes which are very energy inefficient.

Research has shown that some of the most deprived areas in the country apparently are in Hastings and Rother but fuel poverty also exists in the rural areas where people under-heat because of cost.

At a meeting on May 23, RX Energy decided to link up with Energy Sussex Coast (ESC) which was set up in 2012 in Hastings by Richard Watson, OBE, to address the issues of fuel poverty in Sussex and promote community ownership of renewable energy efficiency.

Richard Watson is, apart from having other relevant skills, director of the Schools Energy Co-operative which is currently installing free solar panels on 25 schools. He was influenced by the insight of Teilhard de Chardin (a onetime resident in Hastings) “there is no evolutionary future for anyone unless everyone is included.” This ideology made Richard focus on the most vulnerable to try and find a holistic solution to  the complex problem of fuel poverty.

The way forward agreed amongst RX Energy, Rye and ESC Hastings members was that they would work in partnership. ESC has approached the problem from the social side while RX Energy has come from the energy-saving side. It was suggested that the two projects can be brought together to motivate different groups of volunteers and appeal to different households.

There was a government policy promoting zero carbon homes by 2016 but it was scrapped. Also new homes often under-perform by up to 60% on energy use. The question arose of how RX Energy and ESC might integrate with one another and RX Energy benefit from ESC successes. Training was suggested as an important start including practical knowledge about installing small energy saving measures as well as helping people to look at saving money by changing energy suppliers their energy. 70% of households who have not changed tariff or supplier in the past two years will typically be paying £250 per year more than necessary.

It was felt that the most difficult the work ahead was the problem of how to locate the people who want/need help. One suggestion was to find a co-ordinator who could set up a network of existing services, for them to make referrals to RX Energy, for example from Rye Medical Centre, Age UK, Voluntary Action and others. One thought was that it would be very useful to train one or two people in Rye in energy advice by shadowing Richard Watson in some of his work in Hastings. Richard told the story of the work already done in Iden, and Rye where Amicus Horizon asked ESC to provide energy advice in 20 local homes that had new solar panels and air source heat pumps fitted. The work is ongoing.

A key opportunity would be to see what the ESC strategy plan might be and to see if people from Rye could fill some of the necessary roles, followed by more ESC projects running in Rye further down the line.

If anyone is interested in the topic and would like to get involved  please email: richard@energisesussexcoast.co.uk





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