August 22, 2023
Cut off from energy fund
Energy is a reserved matter, and although the Scottish Government has some control over certain aspects of our energy system, the big decisions are made at Westminster. Working with sister networks in England and Wales, Community Energy Scotland has been lobbying to shape the forthcoming Energy Bill and in particular to create opportunities for community generated renewable energy to be sold to local people at a price they can afford. Not only has the UK Govt rejected that as an idea but it has frozen Scotland out of the new Community Energy Fund. CES is furious.
Community Energy Scotland (CES) has expressed their deep disappointment today at the UK Government’s announcement of the new Community Energy Fund. The fund, which is only available in England, was announced by the Government as an alternative to allowing amendments to the Energy Bill that would have allowed community energy schemes across the UK to sell their clean, renewable power to local people – and provide a guaranteed price for their electricity.
Following CES’s initial support for the amendments, as well as providing extensive input on what this fund should look like if they were not to go through, Community Energy Scotland have expressed their surprise and frustration both at the amendments being dropped and that the announced fund excludes Scotland, and have issued a call on the UK Government to rethink this decision.
Community Energy Scotland calls on the UK government to commit to the inclusion of local energy trading through the Review of Electricity Markets Arrangements (REMA) and to commit a portion of the Community Energy Fund to the devolved nations in order to ensure that communities all across the UK can take advantage of the huge opportunities in energy and decarbonisation.
Responding to the announcement, Community Energy Scotland’s CEO Zoë Holliday said;
“The argument from the UK Government that this fund replaces the inclusion of the community energy amendments in the Energy Bill doesn’t hold up.
“The proposed amendments in the Energy Bill would have had a positive impact for community energy groups across the UK, so it does not make any sense that any fund that is being launched instead of the amendments (or to act as a bridge until such time as regulations are improved for the better) applies only to England.
“The potential for community renewable energy to benefit local economies is continuing to be blocked by unfair regulations; local communities are prevented from selling energy that they produce to local people and in turn tackling fuel poverty; increasing local resilience; and investing locally in communities. The impact of the Community Energy Fund will be trivial compared to the opportunities that communities could have had if these amendments went through.
“While we appreciate and commend the Scottish Government’s consistent support for the CARES programme, any new additional funding in lieu of a UK wide change on legislation should be available to community groups across the UK, including our over 400 members in Scotland, either by allowing communities in Wales and Scotland to apply to the new Community Energy Fund or by allocating a certain proportion of this additional new money to be allocated to the devolved nations to distribute via their existing programmes.”