Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, visited Birmingham City Council last week to learn more about the Council's 'Birmingham Energy Savers' (BES) scheme ahead of the government's Green Deal launch later this year.

The BES scheme has been introduced to retrofit existing buildings with energy saving measures such as solar panels, and has already helped to upgrade over 1,000 homes.

A project partner for the next BES phase, improving a further 15,000 owner-occupied homes, is due to be named in the autumn. Four companies have been shortlisted to enter the next stage of procurement – Carillion Energy Services; E.ON Energy Solutions Limited & Amey Community Limited (consortium); RWE npower Plc & Enterprise Management Services Ltd (consortium); and SSE Energy Solutions & Mark Group Limited (consortium).

The visit saw Davey meet Council Leader Sir Albert Bore, members of the BES team and officials from other local authorities who are interested in becoming part of Birmingham’s plans due to the benefits that economies of scale bring when planning such work. He heard how the scheme could be worth £1.55billion if all of the interested public bodies join Birmingham’s scheme, creating 3,000 jobs for the city in the process.

Davey also spent time with community groups and health agencies in Bordesley Green, inspecting work done on social housing in the area before touring a centre in Balsall Heath, which is equipping long-term unemployed people with the skills needed to work within the green technology sector.

Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart City, said: “The foundations for a green revolution have been laid in Birmingham, but now is the time to accelerate the pace of change. The benefits we can reap are huge.

“The Minister saw for himself the work we have done on the BES scheme, and the ways in which it is helping cut emissions, moving families out of fuel poverty and creating employment opportunities – making it something all individual households, public bodies and local businesses should consider getting involved with.

“It is particularly essential we equip citizens with the skills to work within the emerging green technology sector because it is going to be one of the key areas of growth within the jobs market, and a cornerstone of our efforts to make Birmingham the nation’s enterprise capital.”

Davey added: “As Green New Deal starts nationally in October, Birmingham is making some great strides on all aspects of the carbon reduction agenda. This work will ensure that the city is amongst the pioneers of the green industrial revolution, just as it was at the time of the original industrial revolution.”