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Utilise Plus Event Report: ‘Community Energy’ Networking Breakfast, East Grinstead
On a sunny morning in June, the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC welcomed delegates to East Grinstead for their networking breakfast on the theme of ‘community energy.’ This event was held as part of the SBP CIC’s ongoing Utilise Plus programme which helps small and medium sized enterprises to save energy, reducing their costs and greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
The event kicked off with the SBP CIC’s Jack Dale welcoming delegates and giving an overview of Utilise Plus and the various services it offers, including free energy audits, grants for energy-saving projects, and monthly events. With Utilise Plus coming to an end in just 3 months time, Jack urged attendees to make the most of these services while they remain free by being fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Jack then handed over to the first guest speaker, Esmé Donghi-Wild of Forest Row Energy. Formed in 2014, Esmé’s goal was to create a self-sufficient and energy-efficient community. To do this, she launched the ‘Solar Power to the People’ campaign to show local residents what community energy could do for them, namely reducing energy costs and funding community projects. It’s no surprise then that Forest Row Energy was one of just four successful applicants of the M&S Energy Fund for the ‘most innovative or inspiring project’ and now has over 100 members, with each member receiving a certificate and one day of free consultancy.
Next up was Tom Parker of REPOWERBalcombe. Like Esmé, Tom’s aim when setting up REPOWERBalcombe was to generate the equivalent to 100% of Balcombe’s electricity demand through community-owned, locally-generated renewable energy. In addition to this, he wanted to protest against the destructive fracking that had been forced upon the local community. With almost 100 members, REPOWERBalcombe is the only energy-producing company in Balcombe and has installed solar PV on 5 schools and a farm, installed LED lighting in 3 schools, and has worked on a battery storage project too, generating over 400,000 kWh of clean energy. Tom finished his talk by discussing their plans for the future, which includes working with Network Rail to connect renewable power directly to the railway!
After the talks, delegates networked over refreshments. Delegates enjoyed the event, with Jon Gaida of GoReusable calling it a “fantastic morning with great content and interesting people,” while Suzy Miller of IQ4 Business commented on the “great speakers” and Ian Humphrey of THR Consulting praised the “relaxing networking opportunity.”
This event was fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and held in partnership with the East Grinstead Business Association. At the Sustainable Business Partnership CIC, we always want to hear from passionate speakers, exciting venues, and enthusiastic event partners. If you’d like to work with us, please get in touch.