A Community Benefit Society

As a Community Benefit Society (or BenCom), Keynsham Community Energy's focus is on community investment in renewable energy – building solar arrays and other renewable energy technologies in Keynsham that are funded by members of our community.

The idea is beautifully simple. We develop a project and members of our community put in some money to fund it, in the form of shares. The profit that we make from selling this clean, green electricity is then distributed through our community fund to help tackle fuel poverty in Keynsham.

Investors get a great return on their investment, and local business owners and landlords get cheap electricity.

We’re doing this for two important reasons

With energy prices set to rise sharply over the coming years, we want to keep energy costs low for residents of our town.

And we want to do our bit to address climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

The benefits to creating sustainable energy at a local level are clear:

  • People living in our town get cleaner, cheaper energy
  • Investors get good returns on their investments
  • The townsfolk get help to make their homes warmer and more comfortable
  • Renewable energy doesn't pump greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere

Transforming our town

Keynsham Community Energy grew out of Transition Keynsham's energy group and became a BenCom in 2016. Since then, we have been working to give Keynsham the power to transform how we generate, use and buy energy.

Our town is rich in potential for renewable energy. We have advanced plans for a solar array project on the Riverside building in Keynsham and are in the early feasibility stages for a hydro project.

We want to make Keynsham a resilient town that is well-placed to withstand the future shocks that climate change and resource constraints are likely to bring.

"Community energy projects offer local people the chance to power their homes and businesses with clean energy, and to help tackle climate change at the same time."

Sam Willitts, Keynsham Community Energy director

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Alastair Singleton

Director

Alastair's early career was in Government Service, initially with the Royal Hong Kong Police, and then with HM Diplomatic Service, working as a diplomat in Whitehall and the Middle East.  His business career was in executive search and consultancy, recruiting at senior level and building boards and management teams for a broad range of commercial and non-profit organisations. He was elected to the South West Regional Council of the CBI.  In parallel, he has extensive charity trustee experience, including with Keep Britain Tidy, VSO and CleanupUK, and has been involved with a number of local social and environmental groups including Keynsham Fairtrade and Keynsham Action Network.  He served as a Magistrate in Bath for fifteen years. Alastair has Masters degrees from Cambridge and Bath Universities and an MBA from INSEAD in France.

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Sam Willitts

Director

Sam has worked in environmental roles across the public sector. He has been the Energy and Sustainability Manager at University Hospitals Bristol since 2010, where he tackles carbon emissions through the twin approaches of engineering and behaviour change. His efforts are focussed on embedding sustainability in activities across the Trust. Key successes in greening the Trust have been achieved through developing partnerships with organisations across Bristol and beyond. He is particularly interested in community led solutions to sustainability problems. He is a Director of Keynsham Community Energy and Bristol Energy Network. Sam has a One Planet MBA from Exeter University and an MSC in Environmental Science from the University of London.

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Mark Penny

Director

Mark has a Master’s degree and a PhD in Chemistry. He has spent the last 10 years working in the aerospace industry leading a Research and Development team bringing new technologies from concept to final products. Since moving to Keynsham eight years ago Mark has been involved in a number of community groups, including Transition Keynsham, and became chair of the Transition Keynsham Energy Group in 2011. He was part of the team which set up Keynsham Community Energy and has been chair of KCE since its inception.

During his time with TK energy group and KCE he has been involved with giving energy advice at community events in Keynsham, taken part in public meetings promoting sustainability and sustainable energy and conducted surveys in the town for potential renewable energy projects.

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Richard Dyson

After graduating in civil engineering, Richard worked for eight years for contractors on water and wastewater plants and the Jubilee underground line in London. In 1978 he joined Wessex Water and spent 28 years there many roles, including design, project management, planning, and regulation before he became business auditor, reviewing projects and performance across the business.

He later spent ten years at a national housing association in project management for new housing schemes, before moving to the IT department, managing projects and carrying out business case assessments. Outside work, he spent seven years as Chair of Avon Wildlife Trust and some years as a board member of Bath Self Help Housing Association before taking on various charity roles in Keynsham.

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Nick Coates

Nick is a chartered accountant who has worked across private, not-for-profit and public sectors at Finance Director level. His expertise covers strategy, change, problem solving and growth. For the last ten years he has worked as a business consultant advising small and medium sized businesses in food and professional services.

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Liz Barling

Project Manager

Liz has over twenty years’ experience in public and third sector communications. She started her career as a deputy news editor for BBC News before going on to work as a government press officer. She then spent some years working for food and farming and international development charities. She currently freelances as a writer and editor and volunteers as operations lead for Keynsham Community Energy. Liz is active in the local community as a member of Transition Keynsham. She runs an annual apple harvest project and is on the steering committee of a new initiative to help Keynsham reduce its plastic use. She recently completed an MA at Bath Spa University.

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