Power companies: why mayors and ministers should launch state-backed energy firms. If there was ever a British consumer market in need of new thinking, it’s the energy market. Pretty much everyone agrees it’s not working for the people in it, and especially for people on low incomes. Those people can end up paying almost £400 more to heat and light their homes than people who have more money. This poverty premium has many components. Poor customers are more likely to have pre-payment meters: suppliers charge more for them. They’re more likely to receive not electronic but paper bills: suppliers charge more for them, too. And they’re less likely to switch deals and suppliers, using competition to drive down their price. That inertia can cost more than £300 a year in higher bills. At the Social Market Foundation, we’ve been talking to the people who suffer that poverty premium to see what would actually work for them. One message that comes out of that research -supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – is that there is real scope for a third way, an approach that offers a new role for the public sector within a competitive market. This approach is for the public sector to become a player in that competitive market, with publicly-owned, non-profit energy suppliers. Britain already has one in the form of Robin Hood energy, set up by Nottingham City Council in 2015. The Scottish government is also considering creating its own supplier. London is a striking example: almost one in five households in the capital has a pre-payment meter, exposing them to higher prices. Sadiq Khan has already shown interest in this area: his City Hall is now an energy supplier to Transport for London. Our research suggests Mr Khan and his fellow mayors should be thinking hard about going into the energy business properly to make the market work better for their low-income voters. And ministers who want to put power in the hands of local communities and get a better deal for consumers should be looking at how to help.
Times 24th April 2018 read more »
Leonie Greene: Good news; if they’re clever, local authorities can make most applications of solar work today, without central government support. That’s a message we want to get out wide and far as we publish ‘Leading Lights’, and look to work with local and regional leaders to reboot the UK solar revolution. And our leading light authorities are also using energy storage and even master planning smart neighbourhoods today. Our new Leading Lights Local Authority Network will ensure best practice is shared, and their efforts will be strongly supported by our members. A decentralised energy future is irresistible; it is not just the economics of technology change stipulating a smarter, more localised system with blossoming consumer controls and choice, many local people want a solid stake in clean energy and in climate action too. Their locally elected leaders increasingly reflect this. We’ve been delighted by the UK100 initiative which brings together councils with ambitions to deliver 100% clean energy by 2050. We’ve been heartened by the Mayor of London’s Solar Action Plan and encouraged by the new Metro Mayors’ ambitions for clean air and clean energy. And, with a wave of new local councillors after the local elections next month, we hope to see solar ambitions refreshed across councils of all political persuasions. Action can’t wait; analysis by C40 Cities shows to deliver on the Paris Agreement goals, every city across the UK should be powered by at least 90% renewable energy, making investment a necessity today. The good news is the special circumstances of local authorities – namely access to land and roof space, low or zero cost borrowing, secure off-takers for power and long project horizons – mean they can make projects work economically today, where the commercial industry may struggle. The STA will be holding a series of regional workshops with MPs and local leaders to help spread best practice. All of our members will be able use our Leading Lights presentation to take to their own council to make the case for effective policies. It’s been a very tough few years in solar. But our spring will come sooner if we work closely with the passionate leaders in local and regional government who understand how well solar and storage technologies can help them to meet their objectives.
Solar Power Portal 23rd April 2018 read more »
UK councils light up with subsidy-free and ‘smart’ solar. The top 10 local authorities have invested around £80 million in solar projects. Councils across the UK are leading the way on developing solar farms that do not rely on government subsidies. That’s according to new research, which suggests they are also planning “smart” neighbourhoods, with electric vehicle (EV) charging points and solar to save money on energy bills and generate revenue. A total of 85% of local authorities own solar panels and 29% have incorporated the technology within their environmental strategies. The report adds the top 10 local authorities have invested around £80 million in solar projects, with Forest Heath District Council in Suffolk topping the list, followed by Cornwall Council and Wrexham County Borough Council.
Energy Live News 23rd April 2018 read more »