Empowering communities to take ownership of their own energy needs

Installing panels on a roof in the Loughborough estate

With energy prices continually on the rise, a new government initiative, Collective Energy Switch, is going to be promoted by local authorities to help residents switch their energy tariffs more easily. However, simply switching residents to a cheaper tariff using bulk buying power is not a sustainable solution to lowering energy bills.

Today, the BBC came to speak with us to get our views on energy switching schemes.

As I explained to BBC journalist Andrew Neil, Repowering London is doing something a bit different – we are creating a system that will empower communities to take ownership of their own energy needs. Instead of inventing new ways to price the unsustainable burning of precious fossil fuel reserves, extracting as much profit as possible, community schemes allow people to invest responsibly in renewable energy that will benefit everyone – current and future generations.

Our model is not an either/or option. It can work in tandem with collective energy switching schemes but it is only through community owned energy projects that will we ensure everyone has access to cheaper, greener, sustainable energy.

We have strong political support from Lambeth and elsewhere within local and national government for the work we’re doing.

Repowering London will continue to work in synergy with politicians, communities and other smart initiatives to ensure everyone has a chance to take part in and benefit from community owned renewable energy.

How our work is different from energy switching schemes

  1. Repowering London works with local communities and residents to develop clean energy solutions that will help the entire community, especially the most vulnerable and fuel poor.
  2. We work with community groups, like Brixton Energy Cooperatives to develop renewable energy projects that are actually owned by the community. Every investor gets a say in the management of the project: one share, one vote.
  3. Each renewable energy project has an embedded Community Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF). This fund helps communities address the most pressing issues of fuel poverty through education to encourage behaviour change to more efficient energy usage, delivering energy efficiency measures such as draught-busting classes, and providing jobs and work experience placements for local residents, over the next 20 years.
  4. Energy switching schemes adopt a one-size fits all approach that requires people to pay their energy bills from a bank account by direct debit. In many cases, the most vulnerable people don’t have bank accounts or Internet access and therefore cannot benefit from energy switching.
    We know of savvy local residents who tried to join the Which Magazine scheme but were unable to because they use a pre-pay meter.

Repowering is about more than what can be gained simply through collective energy switching measures.

Our recent solar panel making workshop

The community groups we coproduce projects with, such as Brixton Energy, offer a genuine long-term alternative for communities to tackle fuel poverty, in a way that is accessible to all and deliver lasting benefits that go beyond temporarily reduced energy bills.

The full interview airs on the BBC Politics Show, Sunday 17th Feb, BBC1 at 11:00 am.

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