The UK Government has launched the 'Community Energy Strategy' that will help local communities to take control of their energy bills and help transform the energy system.
The new strategy will encourage community-owned renewable energy schemes where local people benefit from the power produced, allowing them to reduce their energy use or purchase and generate their own energy.
The new strategy will allow communities to play an important role in meeting the UK's energy and climate change challenges, including supporting a sustainable and secure energy system; reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions; and lowering consumer bills.
Under the strategy, the government has announced a series of plans: the £10m Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF); £1m Big Energy Saving Network; a community energy saving competition; and a 'one-stop shop' information resource.
The UCEF will back urban communities in England to develop renewable energy projects and enable community electricity and heat projects to reap benefits from the existing Feed in Tariff (FIT) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes.
The Big Energy Saving Network, which was initially launched in 2013, has been extended for 2014/15 to provide an additional £1m to support vulnerable consumers to reduce their energy costs.
The community energy saving competition will provide a minimum of £100,000 to incentivise communities to develop innovative approaches to saving energy and money, while the 'One-Stop Shop' information resource is being set up for people interested in developing community energy projects.
Having set up several working groups to explore the ways to reduce barriers to communities in navigating regulation related to community energy, the UK Government will establish a community energy unit within the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to lead on this policy area.
DECC secretary Ed Davey said the cost of energy is now a major consideration for household budgets and he wants to support groups of people across the country to participate in a community energy movement and take real control of their energy bills.
"Community led action, such as collective switching, gives people the power to bring down bills and encourage competition within the energy market," said Davey.
Image: Edward Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Photo: courtesy of UK Government.