Our Power – supplying local customers?
In theory we could supply local people with clean power from our solar panels that is cheaper than dirty power from distant fossil plants
When we started REPOWERBalcombe, one of our first questions was would we be able to supply local people with power from our solar panels?
We discovered that because of the way UK energy market rules work, we can’t!
Energy Co-operatives like ours have to sell our electricity to big power companies for less than 5p per unit, who then sell it back to local people for three times the price they paid for it (or more).
The electricity never leaves the local area. The grid simply carries the power straight from our solar arrays to the nearest point of use. This arrangement creates extra value in the power supply chain as less energy is lost in transmission, and there’s less pressure on wider infrastructure and grid operators to balance supply and demand. But because Britain’s energy system is designed around giant utilities, it can’t recognise when local demand is being met with local supply. So the real value we are adding simply boosts profits for utilities and grid operators, instead of benefiting local energy consumers and our co-op as local generators.
Experts say that with changes to energy market rules and the right kind of government support for local supply, it should be possible to keep more of the financial benefits of matching local supply and consumption within the local area – potentially meaning lower bills for local customers at the same time as better prices for us for the power we generate. This isn’t just speculation – this is already how things work in other countries with more developed community energy sectors and better designed energy markets.
That’s why we are delighted to support our friends at 10:10’s new petition, calling on the next government to allow groups like REPOWERBalcombe to supply energy locally. We would like to invite all of our supporters to sign the petition and share it as widely as possible with others who want projects like ours to succeed.
With your help, who knows? Maybe in the not-too-distant future local people will be able to buy clean power harvested from the Sun straight from their local energy Co-op…Sign the petition here: (petition has finished. Ed)
And don’t forget to tell your friends!