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What the papers say. Dale Vince and the Supreme Court



Yesterday’s the Supreme Court decided that the ex-wife of Ecotricity founder can make a financial claim against him. Kathleen Wyatt, 55, took legal action against Dale Vince OBE, 53, in 2011. The couple were married in 1981 and divorced in 1991. Mr Vince is now reported to be worth £107m after founding green energy company Ecotricity in 1995.

This is how the papers are reporting the news:

London’s Evening Standard reported that, ”Millionaire tycoon Dale Vince faces having to buy ex-wife a home 23 years after divorce.” They went on to say “legal experts said the ruling could open floodgates for claims by long-divorced ex-spouses seeking a share of their former partner’s earnings.”

The Daily Mail reported that the “Ex-wife of hippy turned wind farm tycoon who became a millionaire AFTER they split wins right to fight for £2million divorce payout.”  They report that his ex-wife “has taken jobs picking fruit, and since the mid-1990s has lived largely on benefits. Her current home is a former council house in Monmouth, south Wales, bought on a mortgage for £60,000 under right-to-buy laws. By contrast, her former husband has founded Ecotricity, now one of the UK’s biggest green energy companies, worth at least £57million.The strict vegan lives in a £3million 18th century castle near Stroud, Gloucestershire, with his second wife and their five-year-old son. Mr Vince also owns Forest Green Rovers football club where he has banned red meat for players and supporters.”

The Independent reported that “Millionaire Ecotricity founder could be forced to give ex-wife cash payout – 23 years after they divorced.” They go on, “Mr Vince, who lived in an old ambulance after the couple divorced but is now worth an estimated £107 million, argued that his ex-wife had lodged the claim too late. But five Supreme Court justices have unanimously ruled that her case should proceed.”

The Times (subscription) reported that, “Ex-wife of Ecotricity tycoon Dale Vince wins bid for payout 20 years after split.“

Anne Perkins of the Guardian wrote that, “Finally, divorced women who bring up the children have some legal value.” She says, “At last! The Supreme Court has just rocked the apple cart of unequal divorce. It has pronounced that being a parent is an obligation that lasts. Even if one parent is no longer around, for better or worse their fortunes are inextricably bound together. Particularly if those fortunes are for better.”

Dale Vince has called the ruling ‘mad’ and described the situation in some detail on Radio 4’s flagship news programme Today programme at 2:19.

Ms Wyatt’s legal firm, Mishcon de Reya, issued a press release saying, “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has found in favour of our client Kath Wyatt and that her application can continue. We have always believed that our client has a strong case, and we welcome the clarity of this decision by the Supreme Court.” 

Ms Wyatt has been told by the court that her claim of £1.9m is “out of the question.” Her claim may still be dismissed. Mr Vince is paying the couple’s legal costs.

Photo: Colin Brough via Freeimages 

Further reading:

Ecotricity benefits from customer dissatisfaction with ‘big six’

Environmental laureates urge foundations and philanthropists to battle climate change

Ecotricity announces plans to undercut ‘big six’ electricity prices

Renewable energy supplier Ecotricity freezes prices until October


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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