Energy Local is a CIC which supports community members to form an Energy Club co-operative, enabling them to purchase energy directly from nearby green generators cheaper than from normal means. This comes at a time when people are seeking to reduce carbon emissions and protect their communities from rising energy prices, and gives households the ability to manage their power usage.
Thanks to National Lottery players, Energy Local CIC successfully recently received a grant of £400,000 to expand this successful model that started in Bethesda, North Wales through Wales and across Britain. The Energy Local model makes power truly local, benefiting the Club members and the community.
Using local generators for lower rate power
Usually, renewable generators (including generators belonging to community owned schemes) sell their electricity to a power company at a low price. Meanwhile, nearby households are paying standard rates to use it. In an Energy Local club, members aim to use as much of their power as they can while local, green generators are operating. In so doing they pay a lower rate than their standard tariff directly to the generator ,and the generator gets a better income.
Club members are alerted when the green power is abundant so they can optimise their use of low-carbon electricity. Energy Local CIC supports communities to create their own energy clubs; an energy ecosystem. Each club is locally organised and run, but with the ‘back end’ supplied by the team at Energy Local CIC. These in turn support the rest of the community infrastructure and economy.
In Bethesda, North Wales, pioneering residents are benefiting from lower prices when they use their local hydro plant. They have now been joined by Energy Local Clubs in Corwen, Crickhowell and Machynlleth, local solar clubs in Llandysul and Brixton and wind in Bridport. These are demonstrating what the zero-carbon electricity supply of the future could be.
Power is ‘seamlessly topped-up’
“The power never goes off. Local generation is automatically and seamlessly ‘topped up’ by their normal electricity supplier, when necessary,” says Energy Local’s director, Mary Gillie.
“This extra power is priced at three rates during the day to encourage the club members to use it when it’s cheapest and greenest. It encourages the use of local electricity wires in an efficient way too. It’s an all-round win – more, cheaper local power, along with reduced carbon. At a time of rising energy prices, Energy Local gives people a degree of shelter from global energy price volatility and a degree of control over power costs.
“It has been a long road to get here. We are grateful for the huge patience that our fledgling clubs have had shown. We are now ready to take the benefits to more areas and it will be great to work with The National Lottery Community Fund on this.”
Amy Charnley-Parry of Energy Local said: “We are really excited to be working with The National Lottery Community Fund and other grant holders to help build and strengthen community ‘ecosystems’ of different organisations. As we attempt to achieve a zero-carbon electricity system, the danger is that the benefits are not shared with communities and they feel used. This can create resentment and it is likely to make the task harder.”
Reducing carbon and bills
Energy Local is working to find a balance of providing increased income to renewables, a practical means for households to help reduce carbon whilst reducing their bills, but also maintain the customer support and benefits of the national licensed energy suppliers.
John Rose, Wales director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We believe that community action is a powerful way to engage people to play their part locally in addressing global environmental problems, and to protect the climate for future generations.
“By taking climate action we are not only making significant environmental improvements, but also helping people and communities thrive, as demonstrated by the great work Energy Local is doing. We are delighted that what started here in Wales by this group can now expand further and roll out to more areas across Wales and England thanks to National Lottery players.”
The door is now open for more clubs to go ‘live’ and for the model to be rolled out further. The model has benefits all round. It can help unlock many more local - especially community-owned - renewable generators by providing a long-term income. It supports local economies, nudges people to use low-carbon power and helps run our electricity system more efficiently. It’s a step towards the electricity market helping everyone to achieve zero-carbon.
How can I get involved?
To find out more or register your interest in developing an Energy Local Club, contact email@example.com or visit www.energylocal.org.uk