There is no doubt that communities are key to decarbonising the UK economy, and I am glad that the Government is supportive of community energy.
To support community energy projects, the Government has funded the Rural Community Energy Fund: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rural-community-energy-fund. This £10 million funding scheme was delivered through the Local Energy Hubs which support rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects providing economic and social benefits to the community. Since its launch in 2019, the fund has received 1,668 enquiries, 203 applications and awarded millions of pounds worth of grants to projects focusing on a variety of technologies, including solar, wind, low-carbon heating and electric vehicle charging.
I am also pleased the Government has introduced other UK-wide growth funding schemes, such as the Community Renewal Fund and the Towns Fund, through which it is enabling local areas to tackle net zero goals in ways that best suit their needs. In addition, I know the Government encourages community energy groups to work closely with their local authority to support the development of community energy projects within these schemes and plans to reintroduce the Community Energy Contact Group to strengthen engagement with the sector: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/community-energy-contact-group
While the Government is sympathetic to the outcome desired by proponents of the Local Electricity Bill, Ministers are concerned that mandating suppliers to offer local tariffs may be disproportionate and have unintended consequences. However, it may be reassuring to know that, as part of a wider review of market mechanisms, the Government considered retail market reforms and responses to the electricity market consultation. The Government intends to publish a second consultation this year, and it will take decisions on shorter-term reforms more quickly where it is viable to do so.
In the meantime, you can read more about my work on energy and the environment here: