Last month’s Government announcement of a new fund to help community energy grow was soon followed by two further welcome commitments
Over the last year the Government have been progressing a big piece of energy legislation through Parliament, called the Energy Bill. Our collective efforts saw MPs from all parties calling for community energy-enabling measures to be added into the Bill, which has now nearly completed its passage through Parliament. In response, on 11th August the Government announced a £10 million Community Energy Fund.
As the first supportive action from Government for community energy in many years, this was a very welcome new direction.
Then, when Parliament debated the Energy Bill again on 5th September, MPs from all parties again called for more from the Government for community energy. Their rationale was that, whilst the new fund will no doubt help, it will not remove the barriers that prevent community energy schemes selling their power directly to local people.
And when the Energy Minister Andrew Bowie spoke, he made two further promises:
- To consult on removing the barriers that community energy projects face when trying to sell their power locally, and
- To report annually to Parliament on the progress towards removing those barriers.
You can watch our highlights video of the debate by clicking here.
This is another success in our efforts to see more locally-owned and run renewable energy generation. A consultation is a fundamental step towards enablement reform, whilst annual reporting will help Parliament and the public hold the Government to account.
We will do all we can to ensure that the consultation, expected in the autumn, leads to reforms that will help new community energy projects to spring up everywhere.
Then, last week, the House of Lords voted in favour of including a new amendment to the Energy Bill that commits the Government to a strict timeframe for the consultation.
This creates a further opportunity for MPs to urge the Minister for more when the Energy Bill returns to the House of Commons in mid-October. I will write again closer to the time with more details.
All this activity in both Houses of Parliament shows what our collective efforts have done. Before our campaigning started a few years ago, community energy was not a topic that MPs, Lords or Baronesses repeatedly pushed at Parliamentary debates. Now they do – and Ministers are responding ever more positively. Action is the measure of success, not words. But the right words in Parliament are a vital ingredient. Our collective advocacy has done this.
Find out more by visiting the Power for People website.