Thursday 20th October 2016                 Change text size:

Government: communities near wind farms could receive bill discounts

Photo: Good Energy

Communities near to wind farms should receive electricity discounts of up to 20%, according to government proposals revealed by the Financial Times.

Energy secretary Ed Davey is expected to make the suggestion this week as part of Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) measures to lay out the local benefits of developing and investing in clean energy. It is hoped that such a strategy would help oust community opposition to renewables developments from nimbys (‘not in my back yard’).

The plans follow an unsuccessful attempt by MPs to introduce a 2030 decarbonisation target into the energy bill. However, peers in the House of Lords can still accept the amendment when it is passed to them for review in a fortnight.

The FT adds the full paper will be released on Thursday and that Davey is expected to use Delabole wind farm in Cornwall as a case study.

Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity supplier, owns the Delabole site and introduced a community discount tariff in January. Anyone living in a 2km radius of the wind farm is eligible to a 20% discount. Compared to the firm’s standard rate, this equates to a saving of around £100 a year in energy bills.

It’s hoped that its early success – coupled with governmental support – will encourage other energy suppliers to roll out similar incentive schemes in the future.

Head of external affairs Ed Gill said, “Good Energy strongly believes that local people can and should have a part in the income that a wind farm generates.

The Delabole Local tariff fulfils a longstanding ambition of the company to ensure communities benefit from their local wind farm, and is replicable at other wind farm sites across the country.”

Delabole – the oldest commercial wind farm in the UK – was bought by Good Energy in 2010. The firm replaced the 10 original turbines with four more powerful ones that generated enough electricity to power around 5,500 homes – more than doubling its generating capacity.

Speaking to Blue & Green Tomorrow for The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013, CEO Juliet Davenport said the firm was looking into the possibility of rolling out the discount scheme at other sites it was developing.

Community ownership – whereby locals are able to invest directly in renewables projects, and get regular financial returns – is also seen as a good way of engaging people with clean energy. In The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy, Bruce Davis, co-founder of democratic finance platform Abundance Generation, said, “It’s not a clearcut picture, but as a general rule of thumb, I think the industry does need to always engage with the community.

It is part of the environment; it doesn’t have a God-given right to develop anywhere, even though it acts like it does.”

A recent DECC poll showed that 82% of people in the UK were behind the development of renewable energy – figures that were consistent with the results of an independent poll conducted by YouGov last October.

Further reading:

Good Energy launches electricity tariff to reward local customers

Early success of Good Energy’s local tariff should inspire other suppliers to follow suit

Harnessing the power of a community

Attention turns to Lords as Commons votes down energy bill decarbonisation target

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013

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