The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy consulted earlier this year on a ‘Smart Export Guarantee’ (SEG), intended to act as a replacement for the FiT export tariff. Under the SEG, government would legislate for suppliers to remunerate small-scale low-carbon generators for the electricity they export to the grid. However, in its current form, the SEG would do little to support community energy projects without additional commitment from energy suppliers.
As part of our response to the SEG consultation, CEE has called on government to develop measures specifically designed to enable new community energy projects to meet the potential they have to drive the development of a more localised smart energy system, and are encouraging government officials at BEIS to work with us to scope how a ‘Smart Community Energy Export Guarantee’ or alternative support mechanisms could work.
But with the government’s response to its consultation on a SEG scheme still to be released, new community energy schemes are in limbo, and until the SEG policy is finalised, will have to export any surplus energy to the grid without receiving any payment for their power.
With national policy uncertainty likely to remain for a while, CEE is reaching out to other stakeholders to raise awareness of the additional value of community energy and asking them to pledge their support to community energy projects.
Co-op Energy has announced that it will offer a route to market for community energy schemes, regardless of their size, and will ensure a market reflective rate for the energy it purchases from them.
Co-op Energy has long supported community energy, and chief executive, David Bird said: “Energy suppliers have a powerful role to play in helping the public understand that our energy landscape is changing.
“Promoting renewable energy, and being clear about how and where it is produced and who benefits, can encourage customers to change their energy consumption habits as we move to a digital and decentralised power system.
“Community energy groups can help us do this as they are the local, trusted and visible groups that are showing how clean, green energy can benefit neighbourhoods up and down the country.
“Through our new Community Power tariff, Co-op Energy customers are now supporting 79 different community energy groups by buying electricity exclusively from community energy schemes.This is just one practical way we can support the community energy sector in the wake of the closure of the feed in tariff, and we encourage other community energy schemes to talk to us so we can work out the best way to support them too.”
Simon Proctor, Renewables and Origination Manager, has also pledged Bristol Energy’s support:
“Bristol Energy works with a growing number of community energy projects across the UK, and we are committed to helping this this sector continue to grow in in a new and challenging market.
Community is at the heart of what we do at Bristol Energy, and our core values are aligned with many of the community energy projects that we work with, like using energy to address environmental and social issues putting the benefits back into communities - not into the pockets of individual shareholders.
The community energy projects we work with don’t just supply our domestic and business customers with 100% renewable electricity, they provide local apprenticeships, support local schools and help those within the local community experiencing fuel poverty.
Bristol Energy would like to speak to any community energy groups who are currently looking at projects (regardless of size) so that we can lend our expertise and knowledge to develop new and innovative models for community energy - Helping communities to keep on growing and shaping the energy systems of the future.”
CEE has called on other energy suppliers to pledge the support for community energy. Members can lend their support by reaching out to their supplier to ask them to show meaningful support for community energy.
CEE will also be reaching out to other stakeholders in the lead up to Community Energy Fortnight. Responsible businesses do not need to wait for government to act; instead they can provide measures to allow community energy schemes to access a route to market now, bringing a broad range of additional benefits to communities and businesses.
The call followed the CEE conference, Life after FiTs, where experts discussed new innovations and ideas to help maintain the momentum of the sector in the wake of subsidy cuts following the closure of the government Feed-In Tariff programme.
Community Energy Fortnight 2019 runs from 22 June – 7 July. The Fortnight is sponsored by Co-op Energy and supported by the Community Energy Coalition - a group of trusted and influential civic society organisations and sustainable energy experts, including The National Trust, Friends of the Earth, Forum for the Future and the Women’s Institute, who are together working to help enable communities take control of their energy. This year’s theme is ‘People Powered Futures’ – exploring how community energy empowers future generations to fight climate breakdown through hands on actions at a local level, benefitting people and the planet.
About Co-op Energy:
Established in 2010, Co-op Energy, which is part of the UK’s largest independent co-operative, The Midcounties Co-operative, has more than 370,000 customers across the UK, making it one of the largest firms to offer 100% green electricity as standard. As a co-operative, it shares its profits between its members, community projects and reinvesting back into the business.
Co-op Energy is a proud supporter of community generated renewable energy and purchases green electricity from over 70 community projects nationwide.
You can find out more about Co-op Energy on Facebook /cooperativeenergy and Twitter @CoopEnergy
About Community Energy England
Community Energy England (CEE) is a not for profit organisation that represents and supports those committed to the community energy sector. CEE was established by the sector to provide a voice for community energy and to help create the conditions within which it can flourish. This is done by increasing the profile of community energy, sharing best practice and by advocating for supportive policies at national and local levels.