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The Local Electricity Briefing

April 4, 2022 7:00 AM
By Green Liberal Democrats
Local Electricity Briefing

We've teamed up with Power for People to support local campaigners to advocate for the essential Local Electricity Bill.

We must urgently decarbonise our power grid and reduce the influence of unstable overseas fossil fuel prices. Community-scale renewables are a great solution; providing green, clean energy that stimulates local economies.

Spiking energy prices have highlighted our dependence on imported oil and gas, enabling petrostate autocrats to act with few consequences.

Energy independence is essential and can only be achieved at the pace we require through a combination of large-scale infrastructure investment and local developments.

But unfair regulations and disproportionate costs are stifling opportunity.

The Problem:

If you want to buy your electricity from local renewable sources such as the nearby school that has solar panels on its roof, you cannot. We all buy our electricity from a utility company that sources it from anything connected to the National Grid, be it a field of solar panels in Flintshire or a coal fired power station in Yorkshire.

There is so much potential for energy to be generated, bought, and sold locally - but the supply costs and red tape involved make it almost impossible to do so.

In 2014, a report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change whilst Ed Davey MP was Secretary of State found that community energy had the potential to produce over 3,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity by 2020.

However, the Environmental Audit Committee reported in 2020 that only 278MW of capacity was being produced by the community energy sector, less than 10% of that projected.

Imagine someone setting up a local bakery, planning to deliver their bread to local businesses, and then being told that they have to pay £1 million in road tax for their delivery van.

This is the reality for local renewable energy production.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that the financial, technical, and operational challenges involved in setting up a licensed energy supply company mean that initial costs exceed £1 million. The market structure is rigged against them.

The Solution:

As a result of its 2021 Technological Innovations and Climate Change inquiry, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee recommended that a 'Right to Local Supply' be established.

The Local Electricity Bill, written and advocated for by Power for People, would establish this Right to Local Supply and make the setup and running costs of selling renewable electricity to local customers affordable and proportionate to the size of the supply company.

So far, the Bill has been supported by 300 cross-party MPs and the Liberal Democrats, but will not become law without sustained and organised campaigning.

You can read the full bill here.

The Campaign:

We've produced three essential resources for campaigning on the Local Electricity Bill:

P.S: We have plenty more briefings coming down the road for campaigners and candidates just like yourself! Be sure to share this with fellow activists and encourage them to join us for more of the same!