“The Government will bring forward an alternative proposal to empower widespread community energy sector growth.” [Power for People campaign]
Commentators have been asking Where has the Energy Bill gone? – with the Politico website noting that the next phase of the Energy Bill is now expected after the summer, creating weeks of delay, and the government is going to court over U.K. net zero plans (for a second time – thanks to Friends of the Earth’s fresh legal challenge over ‘unlawful’ climate plans).
Otherwise, ‘energy suppliers and consumer groups are urging the government to take action and provide “much-needed” support to vulnerable energy customers during the upcoming winter season’ – and even that support is unclear.
There’s been little talk, though, about the ‘community energy’ aspect of the Bill. The Power for People group organised a businesses and organisations’ letter in support of community energy which was sent to Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Grant Shapps, just before there was actually a debate in parliament on the Bill this week.
Here’s the latest from their campaign manager, in an email sent out just after that vote on Thursday:
Community-run renewable energy schemes: A Ministerial Promise
Last month our proposed legislation to enable growth in community renewable energy was debated by MPs on the Energy Bill Committee.
To recap, we are calling for community-run renewable energy schemes to be able to sell their clean power locally. In recent months we organised for this to be included as clauses in the Government’s Energy Bill, currently progressing through Parliament.
As we expected, Energy Minister Andrew Bowie pushed a vote that removed our proposals from the Bill. This happened because the committee was dominated by loyal Conservative backbench MPs who all voted with the Minister.
But all was not lost. Indeed, far from it. We have always said we are open to an alternative, if it would genuinely help community energy grow. And before the vote, opposition MPs pushed the Minister to either change his mind or offer alternative action. This push stood alongside over 120 Conservative MPs who also support the change we are calling for, but who were not on the committee.
In response, the Minister promised that the Government will bring forward an alternative proposal to empower widespread community energy sector growth and that full details will be announced before the next Parliamentary stage of the Energy Bill.
This is highly promising and, if genuine, could mean a big success. But, rest assured, we are taking nothing for granted and await to see the detail of the Government’s proposal, expected in September after Parliament’s Summer Recess. Furthermore, following on from their support for our campaign, the Labour Party recently announced their plan for a £400 million low-interest loans community energy fund, should they become the next government.
Years of campaigning to bring over 320 MPs on board have led to this. The BBC’s coverage of the recent letter that we organised to the Energy Secretary of State, Grant Shapps, asking him to support what we are calling for and signed by over 60 national organisations, will have helped too.
Here’s more from the Power for People group on their Campaign for the Local Electricity Bill.
And here’s the full information from the official Energy Bill page.