CityCoast Church is hosting one of Brighton Energy Co-op’s solar arrays. Here, Simon Lewis, operations manager at the church, explains why they got involved and what benefits the energy scheme will bring.

Today, the scaffolding went up on CityCoast Centre in Portslade. Over the next few weeks, solar panels will be installed on the roof as part of Brighton Energy Co-op’s community-owned solar array scheme, part of which we are hosting on our roof.

It’s an exciting, if slightly nerve-wracking moment for the church, which meets regularly at the centre. But I am confident that installers South Downs Solar will do a great job with minimum disruption, and we’re looking forward to receiving our first electricity from the solar panels.

We first heard about Brighton Energy Co-op when we started looking into the potential of installing solar panels on the roof a few years ago. We had wondered about the potential of the solar energy hitting our south-facing roof but had never got around to doing anything about it. The Co-op provided the impetus and means to turn our dreams into reality.

As it’s a local organisation seeking to benefit the community, as well as reduce the city’s dependence on fossil fuel energy sources, such as oil and gas, it was a simple decision to get involved with them.

The Co-op’s objectives chimed perfectly with ours. We are a diverse group of people with many different backgrounds who are united in our faith and our desire to benefit the communities we live in. On Sundays, over 300 people meet in our services with around a quarter under the age of 25. During the rest of the week, we host various activities and events that support the community including a pre-school, parent and toddler group, and an over-fifties lunch club.

CityCoast Church will get several benefits from its partnership with Brighton Energy Co-op. Our electricity bills will be 50% cheaper, which means we will have more money to fund activities that will benefit the local community. And since we will be generating and using renewable energy, the church will be playing its part in reducing the city’s environmental impact.

By investing in Brighton Energy Co-op, you are not just putting your money into a scheme that will give you an annual return of about 4% a year. You are also helping organisations, such as CityCoast Church, to run and create projects that benefit local communities throughout the city, as well as helping Brighton and Hove generate renewable energy for itself. It’s an ethical investment to make for oneself and the community — and one that we are proud to support.

Brighton Energy Co-op’s share offer ends on 2 July. To invest and find out more, visit www.brightonenergy.org.uk.

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