March 2014: The London Assembly Environment Committee held the first of two oral evidence sessions on progress made by the GLA’s energy and climate programmes. The first of these sessions was held on 6 February and focussed on the Mayor’s home energy efficiency programme, RE:NEW. Evidence was provided by representatives from a number of organisations, including EDF Energy, the Energy Saving Trust, Hillingdon Borough Council and the Mayor’s Housing Advisor. The full transcript can be accessed here – and a webcast can also be viewed here. Points of interest raised during the debate included:
- The RE:NEW programme is awaiting confirmation they they have been successful in their application to the European Investment Bank’s European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) programme for £2.6m to put in place a support team over a three year period starting from April 2014 (the RE:NEW programme support team is currently operated for the GLA by Capita).
- RE:NEW is currently working with Greenwich, Havering, Newham and Westminster, Hyde Housing and Peabody Gallions developing “bigger projects that would be more attractive in terms of bringing in Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding“.
- Borough responses suggested that RE:NEW was “not very hands-on with project development.” RE:NEW is keen to find out what boroughs are doing but “there is very little support there for boroughs in terms of developing projects and overcoming planning issues.“
- RE:NEW should be instead be focussing on what the GLA could do to “enhance [borough activities] even further if it wants to deliver ambitious carbon reduction targets“
- Further criticism was targeted at the RE:NEW programme stating that the funding resource was mainly going to Capita : “We see that the resources are actually on those people, basically, for the Capita resource. Local authorities are not really getting the benefit of that on the whole“.
- An often confusing debate takes place on how many homes were retrofitted through the RE:NEW programme and how many homes were insulated across London in total. A number of 400,000 homes is quoted by the Mayor’s Housing Advisor during the session. Though not explained, this number is most likely made up of the following: 327,00 treated through the Government’s CERT programme over the period April 2008 – December 2012 (see cell V35 of EST CERT data here), and 70,000 homes visited by the RE:NEW team and provided with ‘easy measures’ over the period July 2011-December 2012 (see MQ here for details). For more on this, see earlier post here.
- RE:NEW Phase 3 has a target of retrofitting 175,000 homes.
Just ahead of the evidence session – somewhat belatedly – the Mayor published the full evaluation report of the main RE:NEW roll-out phase which ran from July 2011-May 2012 (a summary report had previously been issued – details here). A second oral evidence session will take place on 26 March, focusing on the Mayor’s decentralised energy programmes, with the Mayor’s energy advisor, Matthew Pencharz, in attendance.