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Eco-energy co-op launches in Hackney to overcome fuel poverty and youth unemployment

PUBLISHED: 11:05 15 January 2014 | UPDATED: 13:49 15 January 2014

Solar panels. John Stillwell/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Solar panels. John Stillwell/PA Archive/Press Association Images

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A green energy co-op will generate sustainable power and address youth unemployment and fuel poverty, on top of giving Hackney residents ethical investment opportunities.

Under the scheme announced today by Hackney Council, people will be able to buy shares in renewable energy generated by solar panels installed in their neighbourhoods.

The project will be managed by Hackney Energy, a new partnership forged by the council and Repower London, a not-for-profit social enterprise which works with local authorities and communities to develop locally owned energy infrastructure.

Youth internships and apprenticeships will also be created by the scheme, which plans to will increase awareness about energy efficiency, provide a financial return to investors, and reduce Hackney’s carbon footprint.

Repower London’s chief executive officer, Agamemnon Otero said: “It’s not just about putting some solar panels up on the roof, but it’s about creating a platform for those who are most disaffected, those who are out of work, so there’s something they can be part of, so they can donate their time and energy and see their community changing.

“It’s about social investment, reducing fuel poverty, it’s really trying to address all those issues and keeping the money the local community.”

The group has already overseen three successful projects in Brixton, Lambeth, where over 25 young people completed 15 week internships and residents saw energy bills slashed by up to 40 per cent.

The smallest share available costs £50, with a maximum investment of £20,000.

Mr Otero said: “I’m aware that £50 is a lot of some people but they will be getting a return on that.

“This really allows people to say over the next 20 years you will be getting a return from that money.

“It’s one vote one say, so someone who invests more money doesn’t necessarily have more say, that’s the idea of a transparent equal system.

“We’re still in discussion which estate the local community would like to choose but one of the great things about the process is it’s about resilient communities and empowering people, we want to get people involved.”

Fundraising for the panels will begin soon and the installation of the solar panels is expected to begin this spring.

Cllr Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor of Hackney with responsibility for sustainability issues, said she was very pleased to enter into the partnership.

“The aims of the co-op and, in particular, the actions to promote energy efficiency, reduce fuel poverty and get young people into work are ones that I and Hackney Council fully support,” she said.

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