A troubling report out of the UK notes that not only are some four million households living in cold, damp properties -- but efforts to end fuel poverty are stagnating. In light of that, it's heartening to learn about three borough councils working together on an innovative pilot to keep the heat on for their low-income residents. Perhaps there will be useful lessons for other communities with similar challenges. – Philip Bane
In England and Wales people are considered "fuel poor" if the cost to heat their homes is high and paying their fuel bills would put them below the poverty level. The number of households caught in the fuel poverty gap, according to The Guardian, continues to grow.
“We need to see much more ambition from national and local government if we are to end the unnecessary cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty,” said Jenny Saunders, chief executive of the National Energy Action (NEA) charity. Making matters worse, she suggested stagnating wage growth and rising energy costs make it hard for people to escape the trappings of fuel poverty.
Councils take action
Heeding the call to help low-income residents struggling with their energy bills, the Camden Council is teaming with the Islington and Waltham Forest Councils to run a pilot program to reduce those bills. Camden, Islington and Waltham Forest are all boroughs of London.
Their initiative -- Solar 24/7 – will test whether storing daytime electricity from solar arrays in batteries for evening use will effectively reduce fuel bills of low-income households. Three different types of battery storage are being tested to compare performance. Whether residents adapt their behavior to use the stored energy during the peak evening consumption periods will also be analyzed.
"Solar plus storage is of huge interest to Camden Council," said Meric Apak, the Council's Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Environment. "Fuel poverty is a very serious issue, blighting people of all ages and circumstances nationwide and storing solar energy can be one of the methods to offer our tenants significant savings to help reduce this burden."
The 24/7 pilot is partially funded by the NEA.
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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.
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