Bath MP Wera Hobhouse secured and led a cross-party debate on community energy on 1st July.
MPs from all parties debated new rules to enable clean community energy generation and called upon the government to enact a ‘Right to Local Supply’, so that households and businesses can become customers of local renewable energy companies.
The measures proposed would improve competition, create skilled jobs and reduce customers’ utility bills, whilst helping to accelerate the construction of new clean energy infrastructure.
Under the proposal, known as the Local Electricity Bill, a new ‘Right to Local Supply’ of energy would empower community owned energy companies to sell locally generated electricity directly to local households and businesses.
Currently customers can only purchase electricity from nationally licensed utilities. Power for People, organisers of the campaign for the proposal, say this means money that people pay their energy bills with is not helping to strengthen local economies and build local clean energy infrastructure.
A cross-party group of 258 MPs backs the initiative. 70 local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales also support it together with 75 national organisations, including Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales, Community Energy Scotland, WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB.
The Liberal Democrat Climate Spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse MP, said at the debate:
“Our outdated energy market rules mean that community energy groups must sell their power to large utilities, which sell it on to customers. That makes it impossible for community energy to scale up. The solution is a right to local supply that enables community energy schemes to sell their power directly to local customers. That would make it viable to expand existing schemes and to construct many new ones. The Local Electricity Bill would do that. Think of it—a surge in clean energy and a surge in public buy-in for climate solutions, because people would see the local economic benefits happening in their own communities.”
Power for People’s Director, Steve Shaw, said:
“We congratulate Wera Hobhouse MP for securing and leading on this very well attended Parliamentary debate. The Local Electricity Bill, if made law, would unlock the huge potential for community-owned clean energy infrastructure and for this to boost local skilled jobs and economic activity in communities everywhere. We call on the government to support it.”
Responding on behalf of the government, the Minister for Innovation, Amanda Solloway MP, said of the Bill that the government, “agreed with its the broad intentions”, but not the detail. The campaign continues.
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