Wednesday, 9 March 2016

SidEnergy latest: lobbying for community energy

Tomorrow evening sees RegenSW launch the Climate Variety Show in Sidmouth:
Futures Forum: Climate Week in Sidmouth: The Climate Variety Show >>> Friday 11th March

RegenSW has been very supportive of Sidmouth's community energy project:
Futures Forum: SidEnergy latest: the impact of energy policy changes

However, community projects are having a hard time currently, as this latest bulletin from SidEnergy demonstrates:

Greetings from the SidEnergy Team

By now you should be fully aware of the changes made to the renewable 
energy market by the current government as outlined in our Newsletter 
No14. The changes to the “Feed In Tariff” (FIT) and the scrapping of 
the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) has hit SidEnergy and other 
community energy groups hard; it has also had a devastating impact on 
the Solar PV market in the south west.

What happens next? Currently the directors of SidEnergy are in 
consultation with a number of organisations to discuss and clarify our 
various options. Once our accounts have been fully audited we will 
then call an AGM, at which we will announce our decision. Paid-up 
members will be urged to attend and have their say. It is important to 
us that we get as many opinions as possible.

RegenSW a renewable energy umbrella organisation continues to lobby 
the government on behalf of all community energy groups and a copy of 
their recent email is reproduced below.

The directors would like to thank you all for your support and we look 
forward to continuing to work with you in the future.

The SidEnergy Team


Email from RegenSW:

Dear SidEnergy

On Wednesday Ian from TRESOC, Francis from South Brent Community 
Energy Society (SBCES) and I attended a meeting at Westminster with 
Andrea Leadsom, Fiona Booth, head of community energy at DECC, and 
Sarah Wollaston. We set out the amazing achievements and impacts of 
community energy so far and the challenges now facing the sector in 
light of recent policy changes.

We asked for:
* innovation funding for new business models (some of the £250million 
allocated) to be directed to community energy
* SITR for community energy – Andrea said, “I wasn’t aware there was 
an expectation for SITR”, which was surprising given the work 
Community Energy England (CEE) has been doing on this. She pointed out 
the EIS tax relief is for high risk investments and was removed for 
community energy groups because the mechanism was being abused by 
developers.  We explained that SITR was for social investments and 
asked if DECC could work on making this available to community energy 
* a more stable policy environment – Andrea explained that from the 
government’s perspective our 8GW solar targets have been met and huge 
subsidies are being paid to private companies and community energy 
groups, at the expense of bill payers, her key focus is keeping energy 
bills down
* her public commitment and support for community energy – Andrea said 
she has stated her commitment to community energy on numerous 
occasions but we’d still like to see some public commitment
* we invited Andrea to visit us in the SW to see how community energy 
has additional benefits, like addressing fuel poverty.

A focus on fuel poverty and consumer bills
Andrea spent a lot of time talking about the need for community energy 
to address fuel poverty, so this is clearly going to be a big focus 
for her and DECC. We explained that without a viable business model 
and income to a community energy organisation, we can’t pay for fuel 
poverty initiatives and grants and short term interventions are not 
sustainable. Andrea asked for more evidence to demonstrate how 
community energy helps address fuel poverty.

Her other big focus was protecting bill payers. We explained the 
community energy sector’s aspiration to generate local energy and help 
people save money on bills, and that communities are in a unique 
position, as we can generate and shift demand. However, for local 

 to work, the regulatory framework and technicalities need innovative 
pilot projects if we are to enable communities to benefit from the 
distribution and supply margins.

** Meet your MP - tell them your story
The government doesn’t appear to be aware of the impacts and wider 
social benefits of community energy. They seem to think it’s about middle 

class people getting a nice return on their investments,  
paid for by 'hardworking families'. Ian and Francis both highlighted 
how their projects are making a difference to everyone. With TRESOC’s 
panels on social housing and SBCES reinvestment in PV on community 
buildings enabling massive savings for community assets, making them 
more likely to stay open. We all need to share our stories with our 
own MP’s to help this government see that community energy is a 
movement delivering huge benefits to our society.

Have a look at our lobbying pack 

 if you haven’t met your MP and don’t know where to start.

We are having an open policy making session with Fiona Booth, head of 
community energy at DECC, and Emma Bridge from CEE, at Smart Energy 

on the 17 March, so we very much hope you will join us to have your 

We want to get as many community groups along to the event and we have 
specific community discounts available. We are also offering a special 
event partnership to allow communities to come along and exhibit, in 
exchange for promoting the event. If interested please contact 
Charlotte: cwallis@regensw.co.uk (mailto:cwallis@regensw.co.uk) .
Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Jodie Giles
Senior project manager
‘Delivering sustainable energy’

Regen SW
New Regen report on future energy scenarios at local level | Regen SW

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