Labour’s Local Power Plan

Regen welcomes the announcement of Labour’s Local Power Plan, supporting local authorities and communities with up to a billion a year in investment to deliver locally-owned clean energy projects. 

Regen welcomes the announcement of Labour’s Local Power Plan, supporting local authorities and communities with up to a billion a year in investment to deliver locally-owned clean energy projects.

What is Labour’s Local Power Plan?

Under the proposals, a Labour government would provide up to £600m for local authorities and £400m for community energy organisations annually, to turbo-charge local energy projects like solar panels on council-owned land and buildings, or community-owned and led initiatives.

Why is local energy important?

Local energy generation can be tailored to meet regional needs and enable diverse groups of people to take a direct stake in the design, ownership, benefit and delivery of a net zero energy system. Recent Regen work, including with community energy organisations, local authorities, Innovate UK and Scottish Government, shows how local and community energy can bring extensive benefits to local communities. These include tackling fuel poverty, creating business opportunities, delivering training and jobs (e.g. through retrofit schemes), and generating new revenue for the benefit of local people.

There is also scope to leverage trusted community networks to bring often-excluded people (e.g. low income, minorities, people with disabilities) into the process and to better share the benefits that clean energy has to offer. Alongside the national drive to deploy renewables, this can help support a more just net zero transition.

What else do we need to unlock local energy?

While capital investment will be a boost to the sector, there are some key challenges in policy, markets and regulation that we are calling on all political parties to address to fully unlock the opportunity on offer:

  • Grid connections: as with most renewable developments, local and community energy projects face queues of up to 15 years to connect to the grid, delaying the value on offer, particularly from generation and storage. Expediting connections for local and community projects would help to realise the value of these schemes sooner.
  • Revenue certainty: since the winding down of the Feed-In Tariff, community energy generation projects have had no certainty on the revenue they will generate, making it challenging to raise investment. Providing a guaranteed floor price for community energy export, as large projects receive through the Contract for Difference scheme, would allow for greater revenue certainty and more compelling business models.
  • Skills, capacity and development: recent Regen research into smart local energy systems with local authorities and community organisations highlights that key issues for renewables deployment include the lack of skills (e.g. in installation and fitting but also project management, feasibility and local energy planning) and organisational capacity for developing new types of projects in new communities or places. Supporting development of these in can help to ensure that local and community projects are not limited to places where strong capacity already exist.

Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review highlighted that ‘local action is key to delivering net zero in the cheapest and most effective way possible’. Labour’s proposed plans have been designed to put local authorities, communities and people at the heart of decarbonisation and no matter who ends up in Number 10, we welcome all plans and policies that empower a locally led and just transition to net zero.

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