Energy Local is a Community Interest Company (a type of not-for-profit). Dr Mary Gillie, Robin Morris, Dr Peter Boait and Tom Parkinson are co-founders and Directors of Energy Local. Chris Blake joined as a Director in 2017. Here is a quick introduction to the team.
Founder of Energy Local, Mary is an applied physicist by training but her career has been as an engineer. She loves new ideas and has run numerous field trials and feasibility studies to make our energy systems more efficient and to connect more renewables. She enjoys working with science and people to make our society and environment better for everyone. She has been bringing together the different components for Energy Local for a number of years. After gaining a first class masters in applied physics from the University of Edinburgh and her PhD at the University of Strathclyde, she has managed, led or been a team member in high profile technical innovative energy projects from a few thousand to millions of pounds. Her main area of expertise is the development of smartgrids for the electricity distribution system to increase efficiency and to easily integrate renewable generation. Notably she lead Low Carbon Network Fund (LCNF) ‘Smart Village project’ working with Ashton Hayes, been technical engineer for LCNF Customer Lead Network Revolution and My Electric Avenue. She managed Ashton Hayes Low Carbon Communities Challenge (LCCC) Project and Local Energy Assessment Fund project and worked on Elexon funded investigations in local energy markets.
Yes, another physicist! Co-founder Robin has been working on domestic energy efficiency, community energy and energy storage for a number of years. He loves using science to fight climate change and make people’s lives better. He is focusing on market integration – and differentiation! More about Robin.....Robin Morris is a physicist (First from Imperial College) with a background in energy storage and renewable energy (Johnson Matthey and for ITI Energy). At Bookham Technology he led EU programmes and was responsible for product development, supply chain activities, commercial engagement and applications support for optical transceiver modules underpinning successful roll-out of fibre-to-the-home in Japan. For the last eight years, Robin has worked in energy policy and supported SMEs, including advanced LED lighting, DC microgrids and storage. He helped to draw up the Energy Saving Recommended requirements for dedicated LED luminiares. Robin has facilitated installation of LED lighting in social housing through Defra’s Environmental Transformation Fund and Retrofit for the Future, and DC lighting for a LCCC project. Robin has worked with a range of electricity suppliers, including CERT and novel commercial arrangements. He is part of the Oxford Low Carbon initiative to develop new community energy models and technical advisor on a DECC LEAF project, working with private rental tenants and landlords. He is now Chair community action group Low Carbon East Oxford with regular engagement events and activities.
Tom Parkinson ‘the Co-operative Champion’
Tom is the company’s non-scientist – although he did complete the renewable energy module of an Open University Engineering Degree in 2010. A lawyer by training, he is a director of Westmill Solar Co-operative and responsible for the legal structure, ongoing finance and regulation of the business. He is also our man on the ground for the Watchfield, Longcot and Shrivenham trial. Tom Parkinson is a business and legal consultant in the renewables and cleantech sector. Westmill Solar Co-operative operates a 5MW array in Oxfordshire and has over 1,600 members and is thought to be the largest solar co-operative in Europe. Tom also works for Co-operative Energy, an alternative energy supplier which has acquired more than 200,000 customers since its launch in May 2011 by providing good value, simplicity and transparency. He is a shareholder in Osney Lock Hydro (which is developing a community hydro-electric scheme in west Oxford) and advises a number of other companies including MagSpin (a Swiss manufacturer of ‘smart’ meters). Tom studied law at Oxford University and has an MBA from IESE in Barcelona. He previously worked as in-house counsel and business development director for a number of companies in the media and technology sectors, including Video Arts (the training films business set up by John Cleese) and Tradus plc (which was listed in the FT-SE 250 index).
Chris Blake was slightly later to the party – he joined the board in 2016 – we needed to dilute the engineers and physicists a bit more! He brings with him a host of experience of getting start-ups going and running social enterprises. He is a passionate advocate of the social ownership of renewable energy generation. He is a founding Director of both The Green Valleys – joint winners of NESTA’s Big Green Challenge, supporting community responses to climate change, and TGV Hydro Limited – the Ashden Award-winning microhydro development company. He is a founding Director and Chair of Community Energy Wales – dedicated to promoting the community ownership of renewable energy.
Closer to home he is a volunteer Director of Talgarth Mill, a community owned, restored water mill and sometime baker and pizza chef. He walks the talk with his own micro hydro and solar panels.
Co-founder, Peter has been working on the technical algorithms that are the brains behind the equipment. They give you a helping hand to manage your energy use and get the best out of local generation. This is one of a number projects Peter has been involved in use technology to make life easier. Peter Boait was responsible for significant innovations and product development behind the “Wattbox” smart home energy management device widely deployed in the TSB’s “Retrofit for the Future” project. The success resulted in the IP being purchased by AlertMe.com Ltd who are developing it further for their global utility and retail customers which include British Gas in the UK and Lowes in USA. Other developments include “DG Detection” a technology supported by TSB under the “Smart Power Distribution and Demand” call which has attracted considerable interest from Distribution Network Operators (DNOs).