17 December 2012: John Pugh, MP for Southport, has asked a useful parliamentary question around what the Government’s position is on promoting the generation of electricity by local authorities. Apparently it has one.
Col 534W: John Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on the generation of electricity by local authorities; and if he will make a statement.
Gregory Barker: In 2010, we gave local authorities the power to sell electricity generated from renewable sources. It is therefore up to local authorities to generate and sell electricity if they wish and we are encouraging them to do so where this is appropriate. We have also facilitated this through ‘lite’ electricity supply licence, which would allow a local authority district heating operator to sell electricity at retail rates to consumers.
We are also supporting community ownership of localised renewable energy projects through the Feed-in-Tariffs scheme. Local projects engage neighbourhoods and communities in becoming involved with generating local heat and power e.g. Combined Heat and Power with District Heating (CHP-DH) networks in Woking, Southampton, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Local authorities also have a role in encouraging energy efficiency take up, including the Green Deal, and looking after consumer interests, for example, through the pioneer places and core cities initiatives and through supporting or running collective switching schemes.
Some points on this:
- Further to the link to the 2010 DECC news release (above) granting powers to local authorities to be able to sell renewable power – additional information is provided in this letter from the then Secretary of State to local authority Chief Executives ‘Unlocking Local Power‘ .
- Little progress has been made on the so-called ‘lite’ electricity supply licence: no local authorities have actually applied to hold a licence since Ofgem introduced this opportunity in March 2009. The GLA have however recently announced that they will – more on this in an earlier post.
- For the latest on FITs for Community Energy schemes – see the following post.
- All the neighbourhood heat and power schemes referenced in the PQ – though excellent – were all developed decades ago. Whilst good to see that these schemes are still expanding their heat networks, it would have been more encouraging to highlight progress in some new city-wide district heating schemes – however Government support in this area has been extremely limited.