One of the things we built into the project from the start was a report-back function, whereby we help the community energy pioneers talk to government about how policy could help the sector achieve its potential. (Imagine if all projects supporting social entrepreneurs had a properly resourced talk-to-government-about-your-experience element to them. It would be a brilliant antidote to corporate lobbying.)
So to help with this, over the past couple of months I’ve talked to our brave energy pioneers about how government policy has helped or hindered their fledgling enterprises, and we’ve written it up in this report, to talk through with the new government.
The headlines: it’s a mixed picture. There’s strong support in principle for community energy, and the 2014 Community Energy Strategy in particular helped to put the sector on the map. This, together with the advent of feed-in tariffs, has greatly increased the visibility and popularity of community energy.
But it is still incredibly complicated and time-consuming to get community energy enterprises off the ground. As one group told me, “the Strategy is great as a background document – you can say ‘look, national policy supports this’ – but then you hit practical difficulties. We fight every step of the way.”
Community energy has incredibly strong public and political support. It would be such a shame if it was let down by inconsistent policy. We’ll be discussing this report with the new DECC team shortly to see whether, with the help of our energy pioneers, we can grow the sector and give everyone a piece of their local energy pie.