Community energy groups need ‘suitable’ tariffs after FiT closure

Energy suppliers have been challenged to offer a route to market for community energy after Co-op Energy announced a new tariff to support community energy groups.

Community Energy England (CEE), the not-for-profit group which represents over 200 local community energy generation schemes, has urged the UK’s big energy suppliers to offer groups suitable tariffs for the energy they produce.

CEE has issued the call after Co-op Energy announced it planned to give community energy schemes a market rate for the energy it purchases from them.

Emma Bridge, chief executive of CEE, has welcomed Co-op Energy’s decision and called upon other energy suppliers to offer similar tariffs.

Bridge said: ‘We welcome the commitment from Co-op Energy. They are leading the way and demonstrating that responsible businesses don’t need to wait for government to act; instead they are providing measures to allow community energy schemes to access a route to market now, with the knowledge that they will receive a fair price for their energy.

‘We call on the other energy suppliers to also offer suitable tariffs for community energy groups… We often hear warm words from the big suppliers, this is a chance to see them take practical action.’

The call comes following a slowdown for the community energy sector after the closure of the government’s feed-in tariff programme, which guaranteed payments for producers of renewable energy.

With the government’s planned Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme still being consulted upon, community energy schemes currently have to export any surplus energy they produce to the grid without receiving payment.

Co-op Energy has introduced a new Community Power tariff which will support 79 different community energy groups by allowing customers to buy electricity exclusively from community energy schemes.

Their chief executive David Bird said that community energy groups can help promote renewable energy and show how clean, green energy can benefit areas across the UK.

Bird said of the scheme: ‘This is just one practical way we can support the community energy sector in the wake of the closure of the feed in tariff, and we encourage other community energy schemes to talk to us so we can work out the best way to support them too.’

CEE has urged the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to develop measures specifically designed to enable new community energy projects.

They added it would help drive the development of a more localised smart energy system and strengthen the SEG when it is implemented.

Writing for Environment Journal in March, Bridge said the closure of the feed-in-tariff has been a ‘devastating blow’ for community energy at a time when the government is aiming to make the UK’s energy more secure and efficient.

Image credit: Ben Savanna (CC BY-SA 3.0)


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