In conversation with: Finn Jensen

Speak to experts about your idea. And by that, I mean speak to community businesses who’ve already done something similar to what you want to do. It means you’ll learn from their mistakes and can learn a lot from how they’ve done things. But you can still do something which is unique to your place and community.

Finn Jensen

Director of Pennine Community Power

Finn Jensen is one of the founding Director of Pennine Community Power, four miles from Hebden Bridge. He has been on the Power to Change Community Business Panel since 2015.

What gets you up in the morning? What motivates you?

Other than dying for a cup of tea, my reason to get up in the morning is my belief in the necessity to create a better society. I am particularly concerned about the prospect of climate change, and its consequences on our generation and future generations. I am involved in lots of community groups to help make that happen, which is my own small contribution to make change happen.

How did you get involved in community business?

I set up a local environmental group 20 years ago in the Pennines where I live. We were interested in reducing our use of fossil fuels and started looking into renewable energy. That’s what prompted us to start Pennine Community Power. We had a good response from local people. It’s been a long journey but worthwhile.

What impact has it had on your life?

I think it’s taken a lot more time than I thought it would. There have been a lot of obstacles in the way, and we’ve had to learn a lot of stuff from scratch, particularly because renewable energy was relatively new when we started. We all have a few more grey hairs but it’s really stimulating to problem solve and learn new things so quickly. We’ve also been lucky to have a good group involved, and many of us have been from the start.

Community businesses are led by local people. How have you dealt with differing opinions and relenting control?

I’m a firm believer in democracy so I accept that my opinion might be in the minority sometimes. Luckily the group hasn’t had huge disagreements about our strategic way forward. This is probably because we have values we share, and a long-term vision of what we want to achieve. We respect each other’s background and skills. Everyone has something to contribute. And we are happy to be guided by whoever has the most relevant experience in the group.

What has been your proudest moment?

In 2012, Pennine Community Power installed a wind turbine. Seeing it going up was a really proud moment as so much work had gone into it. We had received a grant from Village SOS to fund it but still needed an additional £42,000 to get it literally off the ground. So we ran a community share offer and it was so oversubscribed we had to reduce the amount people could buy so we could increase the number of members. There was a huge amount of enthusiasm and community support which made all our hard work worth it.

We’re currently working on a much bigger scheme to install charging points for electric cars in the area. We want these to be powered by local solar panels and the wind turbine to be truly sustainable. This will probably involve another community share offer to give local people the opportunity to invest and be part of it, and get more people having a say. There’s much more interest in renewable energy now.

Also hoping for a project to install solar panels on housing being developed by Calder Valley Community Land Trust.

Describe your community business in three words:

Democratic. Sustainable. Empowering.

Do you have a tip for someone wanting to start a community business?

Speak to experts about your idea. And by that, I mean speak to community businesses who’ve already done something similar to what you want to do. It means you’ll learn from their mistakes and can learn a lot from how they’ve done things. But you can still do something which is unique to your place and community.

Find out more about Pennine Community Power and do get in touch  by emailing info@powerinthecommunity.org.uk!