Background on the EAC inquiry and recommendations
Following the Environmental Audit Committee’s Inquiry into Community Energy, they published a strong Letter to the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Kwasi Kwarteng MP with the subject: Removing the barriers to the development of community energy. It contains powerful advocacy for community energy’s importance and benefits and many very useful recommendations to BEIS, the Treasury, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Ofgem.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has now replied to the Committee's letter. Our response to his reply is here. We understand that BEIS will include their plans for community energy in the forthcoming Net Zero Strategy and we are working with BEIS officials on this. We echo the Committee chairman, Philip Dunne, in urging the Secretary of State “to develop an ambitious proposal for further community energy funding in his submission to the forthcoming Spending Review”.
We need to keep the pressure up, in a positive way, especially on the Treasury and Cabinet Office, to ensure that they get the importance and benefit of community energy - and why it is a good deal for government money - so that they are receptive to proposals for funding from BEIS. Hope for the Future has great resources on engaging your MP: a good webinar on engaging your MP as an ally is here, on writing to your MP here and links to June training workshops here including one on planning events during Great Big Green Week in September.
We know that BEIS had prepared proposals for a multi-year support package which had been signed off by the previous Secretary of State, Alok Sharma, for inclusion in the Comprehensive Spending Review in autumn 2020. It was deleted when the remit of the spending review was reduced to an ‘Emergency Spending Review’ with a 1-2 year scope. We need to get Kwasi Kwarteng to resubmit it for the Spending Review this Autumn. So the time to act is now.
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"Enabling Community Energy" Back Bench Business Debate, 1 July
A Back Bench Business Debate on Enabling Community Energy was held on Thursday 1 July. Sponsored by a cross-bench group of MPs, demonstrating that there is strong support in parliament for the government to support community energy.
Led by Wera Hobhouse, Peter Aldous and Ben Lake, the debate produced many inspiring contributions from MPs. In her opening remarks, Wera stated that “Community energy is one of the few existing tried-and-tested means of engaging people in the energy system. Indeed, the strength of community energy comes from its connection to people and places, because people make community energy.” Many MPs spoke in support of the Local Electricity Bill but many also cited the EAC recommendations, the CEE Vision and the State of the Sector report. Minister Amanda Solloway echoed Kwasi Kwarteng's promise to make government plans for community energy clear in the Net Zero Strategy. Watch it here. Read it here.
Open letter to the government in support of the EAC recommendations
An open letter from organisations in support of the Environmental Audit Committee’s recommendations to the government on removing the barriers to community energy was sent on 26 May with 75 signatures. The letter is still open for organisations to add their support. If you want to add your organisation's signature please do so here and publicise that you have signed. Read more about the open letter here.