Powering Change event delivers!

Our Powering Change event was our biggest and most ambitious yet! Over 130 people attended sessions throughout the day on Wednesday 14th November, as part of Plymouth Social Enterprise Festival (coordinated by Plymouth Social Enterprise Network).

Over nine hours, fantastic participants came together to share and discuss how communities can help power the change urgently needed to tackle some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our time. The event was held at the beautiful Devonport Guildhall and the Column Bakehouse treated us to tasty vegetarian and vegan food throughout the day (both fellow social enterprises).

Afternoon

During the afternoon’s ‘Community energy, the next generation’, Western Power Distribution and Regen, hosted a session celebrating the achievements, benefits and learnings of the community energy sector whilst looking ahead to a future of innovation and collaboration.

We heard from other community energy groups, who have been through the trials and successes of recent projects and shared learning from their endeavours. Speakers for the day included:
- Peter Crone, South Dartmoor Community Energy and ZCM
- Kate Royston, Tamar Energy Community
- Clare Mains, Plymouth Energy Community
- Ricky Duke, Western Power Distribution

The audience were then asked what’s next? What does the future hold for community energy and how can we make the most of the opportunities that are available to us? There have been new developments in electric vehicles, local supply, flexibility markets, and battery storage. Every table were invited to discuss topics such as electric vehicles, local supply, battery storage and tackling fuel poverty, providing an exciting opportunity for new knowledge, collaboration, innovation and greater engagement.

Whilst other attendees refreshed and new people arrived, attendees had the opportunity to purchase their own copy of The Big Issue from local vendors who attended the event. We held our PEC and PEC Renewables AGMs in the Parlour Room.

AGMs

During the PEC AGM, members welcomed the annual report and listened to our plans for establishing a charitable organisation. During the PEC Renewables AGM, members welcomed the annual report, voted Dave Garland back to the Board and voted to accept the two resolutions regarding interest payments. You can view the minutes here:
Plymouth Energy Community AGM 2018 Minutes
PEC Renewables AGM 2018 Minutes

Evening

Once the formalities were over, everyone took their seats and were treated to a fascinating evening of entertainment and inspiration from some truly amazing change-makers.

Our CEO Alistair Macpherson, reminded us how much the social enterprise sector has developed in Plymouth and celebrated the achievements of PEC to date. He hightlighted that whilst we have all shown how much can be achieved with grassroots action, it has largely been against the flow and in the face of a lack of national political will. He urged the audience not to give up fighting for the fair recognition due from of our government and to imagine what we could do if we have the support that is in their power to give.

Dr Poorna Gunasekera (fondly known as PG), Plymouth University and founder of Megareach, touched the hearts of everyone in the room as described how we all have the capacity to help make the word a better place. We are pushed to be one thing when we can be so much and that we must remember to use all of the colours in our pack of crayons not just one!

Professor Iain Stewart, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute and TV presenter, showed us how tricky it is to convert science into a way that resonates with everyday people and motivates change. He highlighted the challenge for the scientific community to ensure that science and society are aligned more closely than ever before. That the knowledge and expertise that will enable us to live more sustainably does exist but there needs to be a joining of forces in order to put that into practice and policies.

Dr Matt Winning, comedian and environmental economist, skilfully combined comedy and science in his attempt to communicate the challenge of climate change to a wider audience. Some properly funny stuff with a strong moral message!

And lastly, we were honoured to welcome the formidable Lord John Bird to the stage. With a fabulous sense of humour, the House Peer and founder and Editor at large of The Big Issue, shared his thoughts and expertise on how we must give people a hand up not a hand out to really address the roots of poverty and social injustice. With amusing anecdotes and strong views, he emphasised the power of communities based on social business to create change. He applauded the achievements of Plymouth and shared his vision for the proposed Creditworthiness Assessment Bill which aims to make rental payments a compulsory part of a credit score to assist people to access mortgages.

It was a long day but a good one! People have been raving about the evening and we saw a flurry of signups to our next PEC Pals programme, starting in the new year.

Massive thanks to Regen, Western Power Distribution, Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, Real ideas Organisation, Wild Inventions, Big Lottery Fund, Interreg NW Europe, Plymouth Big Issue vendors all of our fantastic speakers and, most importantly, to all of those who took the time to join us!


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