Case study: Somerset West Home Energy ECO pilot

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

How the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is working in partnership with Scottish and Southern Energy to test Green Deal mechanisms.

With the Green Deal fast approaching, the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is working in partnership with Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and the Somerset West partnership (consisting of Sedgemoor, Taunton Deane and West Somerset local authorities) to test some of the key Green Deal mechanisms at a local level.

Launched at the start of April, Somerset West Home Energy builds on a recent project in the area which offered a 25% grant for complex insulation works. The new pilot aims to test the principles behind the Carbon and Affordable Warmth aspects of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Somerset West Home Energy offers owner occupiers the opportunity to install solid wall insulation on a no upfront cost basis, no matter what their financial circumstance. Basic insulation and heating improvements, including heating system replacement, will be accessible for those falling into the current definition of the ‘Super Priority Group’. This is primarily those receiving benefits such as Pension Credit and Child Tax Credit with a low household income.

For those interested in improving their home with solid wall insulation, pay as you save finance will be available (calculated on a Green Deal basis) along with grant funding. The amount of funding will be calculated based on predicted CO2 savings from an EPC assessment in line with the proposed approach for the Energy Company Obligation (Carbon).

The challenge for the pilot will be finding the right balance between pay as you save finance and funding in order to make solid wall insulation an attractive and viable option for homeowners. A grant contribution from the local authority, alongside an ECO pilot contribution from SSE, will help reduce the financial burden. The Affordable Warmth part of the scheme aims to provide 100% funded loft and cavity wall insulation and heating system improvements to vulnerable customers. The funding amount will be dictated by the fuel bill savings achievable.

The pilot will offer valuable insights into managing a local ECO scheme - from building relationships with local installers and marketing the scheme through to managing the customer journey. In this respect, guiding more vulnerable households through the process will be a particularly important focus.