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Tamar Energy Community

What they do

Tamar Energy Community (TEC) provides support and services in four main areas: energy advice, local energy innovation, sharing knowledge, and community-owned renewables.

 

 

TEC's local community area

The Tamar Valley is a wide wooded river valley stretching from Bodmin Moor via Dartmoor to Plymouth and the sea. The area is where West Devon and East Cornwall meet, bordered by the wildness of the moors of Bodmin and Dartmoor. It is an area rich in natural beauty and history, including mining and horticultural industrial heritages and a thriving local food culture. The area is popular with tourists and loved by its inhabitants, and the high levels of sunshine make it excellent for solar generation.

Local energy advice service

TEC has been providing the local community with independent energy advice and support since it was set up in 2014. TEC’s team of five trained energy advisors help local households with energy matters ranging from switching to a cheaper or greener tariff to making their homes more energy efficient and accessing funding for insulation or a replacement boiler.

A key part of TEC’s energy advice service is providing free home energy assessments for low income and vulnerable households. These involve a home visit by a trained energy advisor to carry out a thorough assessment of the home and energy reduction measures including:

Installing a range of simple measures like LED light bulbs and draught-proofing; providing energy efficiency advice and training; identifying larger energy efficiency measures where grant funding is available; switching energy supplier; supporting access to energy-related benefits payments.

TEC will also identify other hazards and vulnerabilities in the home and make referrals onto the appropriate department or agency.

TEC’s free home energy assessments and energy advice services have been enabled by funding partnerships with LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership), Western Power Distribution’s South West Affordable Warmth programme and West Devon Borough Council.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, TEC has adapted its services and provides virtual home visits via video or over the phone, together with signposting to Covid-19 support.

Solar roofs

In 2016 and 2017, TEC became a local energy generator by installing community-owned solar PV panels on the roofs of six local schools and businesses. TEC’s Solar Roofs between them generate over 250,000 kWh of electricity per year, from the sun. That’s equivalent to the annual energy demand of around 70 average UK homes

The electricity generated by the Solar Roofs is forecast to displace over 230 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The Solar Roofs all benefit from Feed-in Tariff payments for all the electricity they generate. The Feed-in Tariff payment is guaranteed for 20-years from the date each installation was commissioned. TEC is paid for the solar electricity used by the occupant of each host building through a power purchase agreement (PPA). Some of the installations receive an additional payment for surplus electricity exported to the local electricity network .

TEC’s rights to install and maintain the Solar Roofs are secured through a roof lease agreement with the owners of each site. The roof lease agreements also set out key obligations on TEC, such as maintaining insurances and keeping the solar systems in good order.


Bringing people together

 

The change required to democratise, decentralise, decarbonise and digitise energy (the 4Ds) requires us all to work together. TEC’s team and volunteers have been sharing knowledge, advocating for a net zero future and engaging stakeholders for over 10 years.

TEC regularly takes part in local events such as Tavistock Garden Festival, Gulworthy Fete and Callington’s Honey Fair. TEC was delighted to take part in Tavistock’s first EcoFair  in 2019.  TEC also holds its own events including its Feast for the Future last year, its AGM and the annual Energy Fest.

TEC has helped develop a network of community energy enterprises and local councils across Devon, working to tackle fuel poverty and help their communities engage in and benefit from the low carbon transition. TEC is a member of Regen, Community Energy England, NEA (National Energy Action) and Coops UK. Locally TEC is a member of the Okehampton and Tavistock Health and Wellbeing Alliances and the Tavistock and District Chamber of Commerce.

Wherever possible TEC works with local suppliers in the fields of renewable energy, insulation, heating and other measures.

TEC values it's working relationships with West Devon Borough Council, Devon County Council, Cornwall Council and the local town and parish councils.


Local energy innovation - The Power in Your Hands

 In 2018 TEC was one of seven community energy enterprises to secure a place in Western Power Distribution’s (WPD’s) OpenLV community energy pilot. The ‘open’ stands for ‘open data’ and the ‘LV’ for ‘low voltage substation’. OpenLV is a ground breaking trial to understand the impact of providing greater visibility over energy use at a local substation.

On a practical level the project has enabled TEC to work with St. Peter’s Junior School and residents within the substation area (Meavy Way in Greenlands, Tavistock). TEC has run an EcoClub at the school and provided graphs and statistics to enable householders to understand their use of power compared to their peers.

Energy network management is evolving quickly as the District Network Operators (DNOs) such as WPD develop the electricity distribution infrastructure needed to decentralise and decarbonise supply.

TEC believes that knowing more about our local electricity usage means we can try to avoid overloading our substations, and in the future could offer the possibility of having electricity tariffs offering cheaper energy at off-peak times of day.

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