Power for People – Q&A Session

Half of all UK households could face fuel poverty this winter due to the rapidly rising costs of energy bills.

The community energy sector has such potential to make a big contribution to relieve this mounting pressure. But regulatory barriers stand in the way. Now more than ever, we need to enable community energy groups to sell their clean power to local households so that money we pay for our energy is redirected into local communities.

Last week we organised the introduction of a legislative amendment that would do this to the Government’s Energy Bill, currently proceeding through Parliament. The amendment is soon to be debated and voted on in the House of Lords.

Whether or not we win this vote, we will need to encourage MPs and the Government to back what we are calling for when the Energy Bill comes to the House of Commons. Are you wondering how you can help?

On Thursday 15th September, we will be hosting our first ‘drop in’ Q&A session with our team of expert campaigners.

Drop in anytime between 5:30pm and 6:30pm to have your questions about the campaign answered.

Whether you want an update on campaign progress, or you are not sure what to ask of your MP – no question is too small.

To join us, click this link on 15th September at 5.30pm (no registration required).

These informal Q&As will take place every other month.

Remember: we are still here to answer your questions in-between Q&As, just email us at info@powerforpeople.org.uk.

Power for People – The Community Energy Revolution

The Problem

We are not meeting our climate change targets – the UK is way off track to meet the fourth and fifth carbon emissions budgets of the Climate Change Act. Community-scale renewable energy has huge potential to help solve this problem and benefit local economies, but it is currently blocked from doing so.

If you want to buy your electricity from local renewable sources, such as the local school or sports hall that have solar panels on their roofs, you cannot. We all buy our electricity from a utility company that sources it from anything connected to the National Grid, be it a field of solar panels in Wiltshire or a gas fired power station in Yorkshire.

Putting it the other way around – a community with local renewable generation, e.g. housing estates with solar panels or a local wind farm – cannot sell the energy they generate directly to local people, but must sell it to a utility who sells it on to customers. This is happening because becoming a supplier of energy to customers involves set-up and running costs of millions of pounds. These costs are due to things like having to grapple with the highly complex grid balancing codes and network agreements that are controlled by the largest six utilities.

The heart of the problem is disproportionate costs. It would be like you wanting to set up a business baking cupcakes in your kitchen and delivering them to people in your local area, but instead of just paying the road tax for your delivery van you had to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to use the roads, no matter how few cupcakes you delivered. You could never start your business – this is the reality for community-scale renewable energy in the UK.

The Solution

The costs and complexity of being able to sell locally generated energy to local people need to be made proportionate to the size of the local energy co-operative’s or business’s operation. We have drafted the Local Electricity Bill which lays out a mechanism that will do this. If made law, it would give electricity generators the right to become local suppliers – i.e. sell their energy directly to local people – and make it financially viable to do so.

The Benefits

If the Local Electricity Bill became law, it would give a huge boost to community renewable energy and local economies.

  • Communities would benefit from selling local renewable energy -Significant additional value would remain within local economies, meaning more investment in things like local services and more efficient homes.
  • Communities could raise funds to build more renewable energy – Communities would have a viable business model to build new renewable energy schemes, meaning they could help ensure the UK meets its climate change targets.
  • Communities would see knock-on local economic benefits – There would be greater acceptance of the transition to 100% renewable energy, local economies would be more resilient, local skilled jobs would be created and our energy supply would be more secure due to less imports of fossil fuels.

The Campaign

To see the Local Electricity Bill made law, we need the support of around 400 MPs (which is well over half the House of Commons). So far, the Bill has gained the support of a cross-party group of 309 MPs.

We are mobilising people at constituency level to call on their MP to back the Bill. Every additional supportive MP increases the chance it will become law. We need your help with this so please sign up.

For more information, visit the Power For People website.

London Fire Brigade – Grass Fires in Croydon

Firefighters have tackled two simultaneous grass fires in Croydon during today’s (19 July) record-breaking heatwave.

Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters dealt with a fire on Oaks Road in Croydon. One hectare of woodland was alight. The Brigade was called at 12:07 and the fire was under control by 14:21. Fire crews from Addington, Biggin Hill, Wallington, Croydon and surrounding fire stations attended the scene.

Another four fire engines also dealt with a grass fire on Chapel View in South Croydon, where around one hectare of woodland and undergrowth was damaged by fire. The Brigade was called at 12:20 and the fire was under control by 14:30. Fire crews from Purley, Plumstead, Greenwich and Lambeth fire stations attended the scene.

There were no reports of any injuries.

The London Fire Brigade is under immense pressure as they battle several various fires across the capital. They are working incredibly hard in very challenging conditions.

The London Fire Brigade are strongly urging people NOT to have barbeques or bonfires today.

  • DON’T have BBQ’s in Parks or Open Spaces.
  • DON’T leave broken bottles or glass on the ground.
  • Dispose of cigarettes safely.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “The recent hot, dry weather has made the ground extremely dry, which unfortunately means grassland and parks will burn quickly when exposed to even the smallest of sparks.

“Common causes of grass fires include carelessly discarded cigarettes or matches as well as rubbish left lying around such as glass bottles, which can start flames by magnifying the sun’s rays.

“Every one of us can help reduce the risk of fire and keep our communities clean, make sure rubbish is safely thrown away and cigarettes are always properly disposed of.

“If you see a grass fire, don’t attempt to put it out yourself as grass fires can travel very quickly and change direction without warning.

“If you see signs of smouldering grass then please dial 999 and let us know where the fire is.”

For more information, see the London Fire Brigade Website: https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/incidents/2022/july/grass-fires-croydon/

For the latest news, check out the London Fire Brigade on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LondonFire

Gardening for Wellbeing with Lynette

We are extremely excited to let you know that our Volunteer Lynette will be soon starting her Gardening for Wellbeing club at the Wilderness. Don’t miss this opportunity to join a relaxed and inclusive environment, surrounded by the beauty and tranquillity of the Wilderness garden.

We only have 6 places available. Be the first one to sign up.

The 5 weeks programme of Gardening for Wellbeing is aimed at anyone age 55+ living in the community.

The programme focuses on the benefits of growing your own plants: vegetables, herbs and house plants. At the end of the programme, you will:

  • learn the ethos and approaches to re-growing food
  • learn how to regrow food from scraps and how to care and manage your plants
  • learn how to propagate house plants
  • contribute to our kitchen garden
  • attend an art & craft with nature workshop

Activities suitable to all. The Wilderness is a wheel-chair friendly garden with accessible toilets on-site.

For more information, contact southlondon@mha.org.uk