Create a community owned green energy company
As we migrate to more electric vehicles and electrically powered public transport, it is essential that we do not generate the electricity from fossil fuels. I will set up community owned energy companies to cover both generation and supply. Supply is where consumers buy their electricity, generation is where suppliers buy their electricity to sell on. The Conservative Government has severely damaged the UK solar industry by removing the Feed In Tariff, and the Export Tariff – in effect, new solar installations have to give their energy away free to energy companies.
A supply company, owned by its customers, can save households money on their bills and keep money in the local economy instead of being pocketed by the owners of the “Big Six” energy companies. For instance Nottingham has set up a local authority owned company – Robin Hood Energy, which turned a profit for local council tax payers in just three years from start-up, and protects customers from energy rip-offs; Cooperative Energy and Octopus energy all compete successfully in this market. My policy team have already explored licensing and partnerships to get IT and operational systems in place quickly and at low risk, with encouraging responses from potential partners. This company would have a legal form known as an “asset lock” to prevent it ever being privatised.
In addition to supply, there are several models available for generation. As a branch of local government it is possible to access capital grants and very low cost borrowing to develop generation infrastructure. For example, it is possible to set up low cost solar farms on existing buildings, in effect leasing roof space, and buying electricity from people who already have solar panels. As we change planning rules to require greater solar generation, we can greatly expand solar generation in this way. In time, this company will look to invest in large scale renewable power generation – which is already cheaper than fossil fuel generation. The North Sea alone can develop enough offshore wind to power the whole of Europe. A large amount of business planning is already in place, and I’ll commission the due diligence reports immediately upon taking office to determine which approach to begin with.
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