MPs from all parties discussed new rules to enable clean municipal energy generation and called on the government to enact a “right to local supply” so that households and businesses can become customers of local renewable energy companies.
The proposed measures would improve competition, create skilled jobs and reduce customers’ electricity bills, while helping to speed up the construction of new clean energy infrastructure.
Under the proposal known as the Local Electricity Bill, a new “right to local energy supply” would enable community-owned energy companies to sell locally generated electricity directly to local households and businesses.
At present, customers can only obtain electricity from nationally licensed suppliers.
A bipartisan group of 258 MPs supports the initiative. 70 local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales support it along with 75 national organizations including Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales, Community Energy Scotland, WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the RSPB.
Conservative MP Peter Aldous said during the debate: “It is very clear that local councils, cities, towns and villages want to make their contribution to the transition to net zero. We need to use all the tools in the pits to make sure we reach our destination on time and hopefully after a smooth ride. This means removing the regulatory barriers that currently prevent Community Energy from playing its full role. “
Labor shadow energy minister Dr. Alan Whitehead, MP added, “An agreement whereby people produce, own and consume their own low carbon energy is or should be a prime example of this behavioral change as our climate change is concerned.
We now have before us a bill that could really solve the problem of how local energy can be produced, generated, transmitted and consumed locally. It should be promoted by the government, which should submit it as their community and local energy plan. “
Liberal Democrats’ climate spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse MP said at the debate: “Our outdated energy market rules mean that municipal energy companies have to sell their electricity to large utilities who then sell it on to customers. That makes it impossible for the community energy to scale. The solution is a right to local supply, which enables municipal energy systems to sell their electricity directly to local customers. That would make it possible to expand existing systems and build many new ones. The local electricity bill would do that. Imagine this – an increase in clean energy and an increase in public support for climate solutions because people would see the local economic benefits in their own communities. “
Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Shadow Energy, Ben Lake MP, said, “The existing community energy groups operating on these islands cut energy bills by £ 2.9 million last year and spent 3 million pounds on community services. Made £ 1 million. We should just imagine what these numbers would look like if community power were fully activated, growing from the current 319 MW to over 3,000 MW. This measure is not just about tackling the climate crisis, as important as it is. It is also about promoting local skilled jobs and cheaper energy bills. It is very much a win-win-win. While we welcome the government’s support for this principle, we believe that if we work with the minister and the ministry, we can get the details right and pass a local electricity law that gives the right to local electricity. “
Power for People’s Director Steve Shaw said: “We congratulate MPs Wera Hobhouse, Ben Lake and Peter Aldous on this very well attended parliamentary debate. The Local Electricity Act would unlock the tremendous potential for community-owned clean energy infrastructure by promoting local skilled jobs and economic activity in communities everywhere. We urge the government to support this. “
On behalf of the government, the Minister for Innovation, Amanda Solloway MP, said of the bill that the government “agreed with its general intentions” but not with the details. The campaign continues.