13 February 2012: New ‘Green Paper’ from think-tank ResPublica – Re-energising Our Communities: Transforming the energy market through local energy production – focuses on opportunities for ‘community energy, referring here to the “means of generating and distributing energy that is owned and led by communities, rather than by individuals or private businesses. Community energy vehicles are democratically accountable to community members and participants and may deliver a financial return to investors, or reinvest surplus profits back into the project and wider locality.”
The study makes a number of recommendations including:
- DECC should recognise the need for a co-ordinated support programme for community energy
- DECC, the Cabinet Office and the Treasury should conduct a cross-departmental review to examine the potential for community energy projects
- Through forthcoming changes to local government finance, local authorities may retain a share of uplifts in local business rate income which could in turn be used for community investment
- DECC and DCLG should work together to produce guidance on how the new ‘rights’ within the Localism Act 2011 could be used to support community energy.