On 2 May, local and Mayoral elections will be held across the UK. This is an opportunity to raise the profile of community energy and the issues that matter to our sector among local politicians and build for the general election at the same time. You can find information on who your local candidates are here. If they are not listed, try the major parties' websites for your local area. Council candidates are sometimes hard to get hold of, so if you can’t find an email or postal address, check for social media accounts and look up if there are any local hustings taking place.

If you get the chance, here are three things to raise with candidates standing for election in your area.

The value that community energy brings locally

Councillors can be important allies for community energy locally and making connections with candidates now may pay dividends later. Some may not have heard of community energy or only have a vague idea of what it is. Educating candidates and councillors on what you do and how it benefits the local community is a great starting point, which will enable you to ask for their support later on. Invite them to visit, attend a surgery or ask for a meeting.

Council support for community energy projects

Local authorities can be crucial stakeholders in getting community energy projects off the ground, whether by providing access to sites, approving planning applications for new generation infrastructure or developing Local Area Energy Plans that envisage a role for community energy.

Depending on developments in national politics, councils may be better able to support community energy in future. For example, the council may be tasked with passing on central government grant funding for energy projects to communities and councils may be required to develop more cohesive decarbonisation plans. If community energy is to take advantage of the opportunities such changes could bring, it needs councillors to see local community energy organisations as potential partners who bring expertise, enthusiasm and local knowledge that can help them to achieve their aims. There could be real value in developing positive relationships with local councillors and candidates during and after this election campaign.

Use councillors’ connections

Councillors often have excellent connections to their party’s local MPs. of the same party in and around their constituency. Establishing good relationships with councillors and candidates could also be a way into the local constituency party, the prospective parliamentary candidate and to the army of canvassers who will mobilise ahead of the General Election.