Power to the people

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Local communities could break the domination of the big six energy companies by generating their own power and supplying it back to local people, according to new report written by leading south west law firm Stephens Scown and Regen SW.

Sonya Bedford
Sonya Bedford

The report calls on government and regulators to change the rules to enable local energy supply models to flourish.

There are now over 5,000 community energy groups in England. To date their focus has been the setting up of generation projects – but the goal of using and selling that energy within the local community, rather than simply selling it into the national grid or an individual purchaser, is a harder nut to crack.

“We’re seeing growing interest from local community groups, housing associations, councils and developers in local energy supply models,” said Sonya Bedford, partner at Stephens Scown and joint author of the report.

“Momentum is growing, not least because the national grid network is becoming increasingly constrained. Communities want to be more in control of their own energy, and they want it to be green, renewable and sustainable.

“The dream of true self-sufficiency is moving closer, although there are still some major questions to be resolved if it is to become a widespread reality.  We need the Government and Ofgem to reduce barriers to entry.”

Tamar Bourne, senior project manager at Regen SW and joint author of the report, added: “Local supply has the potential to transform our energy system. If we can keep more of the income from supplying energy in the local economy, we can reduce fuel poverty, help communities meet their carbon and environmental objective and create social enterprises that customers can trust.”