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Local authorities not plugged in to community energy policy

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Issued:13/01/15

Local authorities are often being given the cold shoulder in Government discussions about community energy policy, a team of Sheffield Hallam academics has claimed in a new journal.

The team from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research say Government is often switched-off when it comes to how local authorities can support community energy policy - where communities work together to either generate energy or to collectively reduce the amount of energy they use.

Will Eadson, who has co-authored Critical Perspectives On Community Energy with colleague Mike Foden, said there is a potential role for local authorities to help deliver community energy schemes.

He said: "Local authorities are being somewhat overlooked in national government policy on community energy.

"But they have important strengths in co-ordinating finances and planning, as well as democratic legitimacy with a remit to ensure equity of provision across all residents.

"There are many examples where local authorities are already working with communities to extend decentralised energy provision and develop innovative new approaches.

"For instance, Plymouth City Council is developing its own community energy tariffs, Nottingham City Council has set up its own energy supply company with local community stakeholders, and many other local authorities are investing in local energy supply and distribution technologies such as solar power and district heating with benefits going directly to communities.

"Recognising this is important and further engagement of local authorities as drivers of community energy could act as a catalyst, particularly for projects that focus on bringing benefits to residents in deprived areas."

Eadson and Foden have co-edited the new edition of People, Place and Policy, CRESR's in-house journal, bringing together expertise in community energy provision.

He added: "The papers collectively tackle the issue of community energy and set out options for how we might think differently about decentralised energy initiatives. The submitted papers include a look at how community energy works in Mozambique and a call for a better network of intermediaries, including local authorities, to shape future community energy projects."

For press information: contact Laurie Harvey in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk