MPs support grows for the Local Electricity Bill – but will it become law?

Barry White

As previously reported on the this web site a Local Electricity Bill has been promoted by the campaign group Power for People, to enable communities like ours to source local clean energy. This, in turn, would reduce the UK’s dependency on volatile gas imports.

Support for the bill is growing in Parliament with the backing of 306 MPs including 120 Conservatives and 118 Labour. UK Power Networks have also publicly backed the Bill with four distribution network operators supporting the measure.

Power for People’s Director, Steve Shaw, said, “The biggest threat to human civilisation and the natural world is climate breakdown. Global emissions have increased by over 400% since 1950, with levels of CO2 at their highest concentration in the past two million years. It is not too late to turn things around – I know the power of campaigns like this.

“The enormous emissions reductions the Local Electricity Bill aims to bring must be a key pillar in our mission to avert climate catastrophe whilst making our energy system more robust and boosting local jobs and the economies of communities across the country.”

Currently, UK customers can only purchase electricity from nationally listed utilities. If you want to buy your electricity from local renewable sources, such as the local school, sports hall or swimming pool that have solar panels on their roofs, you cannot. Organisations that are also supporting the Bill – including WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB – believe that more powers need to be given to power community renewable energy projects.

The group is calling for more MPs and the Government to back the Bill. Recently supporters of the Bill, including Conservative MP, David Johnston who is sponsoring the measure, were in talks with the Government’s Energy Minister, Greg Hands MP, and his department.

In his response, the Energy Minister stated: “The Government recognise the role community and locally-owned renewable energy schemes can and do play in supporting the UK’s national net-zero targets … [Community groups] can be a catalyst in the promotion of behaviour change, which we all know is vital to reaching net zero.” As a result of the meeting with the Energy Minister and, subsequently, his Departmental (BEIS) officials, Power for People has developed an alternative proposals in the Bill and published it in this briefing paper:

The proposal attempts to address the government’s concerns about potential unintended consequences of empowering community-run energy schemes to sell their power directly to local customers. Power for People say that they have formulated this alternative proposal in the spirit of constructive dialogue and progress the proposed legislation in the new Parliamentary session, which started last month, when it is hoped to see the Bill reintroduced.

Meanwhile the cost of electricity and gas will increase again in October. The Financial Times reported (11/12 June) that by the autumn as many as four in 10 households could be in fuel poverty, spending more than 10% of their disposable income on energy bills. The article points out that charities, whilst welcoming the government’s recent £15bn aid package, fear that it will not be enough for the poorest. Most disadvantaged energy users the article points out are the 4.5 million UK households with prepayment meters who pay in advance for their energy and also pay a higher unit price. If they can’t afford to keep their meters topped up, the lights literally go out!

Source: Power for People:




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