Businesses and groups could generate electricity for their communities

NewsPhotograph Simon Parker 17/1/2012A wind turbine in a field at Bruisyard near Framlingham

Small scale electricity generation projects could in future benefit local communities - Credit: Simon Parker

Proposals to allow local groups and businesses in Suffolk to generate renewable electricity for their area have been backed by community leaders.

It could mean key developments like Mid Suffolk District Council’s flagship Gateway 14 business and logistics park could supply renewable energy to local homes.

Suffolk councillors are supporting a Government bill that will allow communities to contribute to local renewable energy production.

The Local Electricity Bill, currently due for a second reading in Parliament in December and sponsored by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, includes provision to remove barriers for local renewable energy providers, such as village halls or businesses using solar panels or turbines.

At the moment, businesses and groups cannot supply electricity to the grid for local use - because licence costs are the same cost as for the large multinational energy suppliers.

The bill proposes to make the set-up and running costs proportionate to the size of the supplier, so that small community providers would not be priced in line with the major suppliers.

On Thursday afternoon, Suffolk County Council’s full council meeting unanimously agreed a motion brought forward by the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent (GLDI) group to back the bill.

Andrew Stringer

GLDI group leader Andrew Stringer said the current system was “not really functioning correctly”. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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GLDI group leader Andrew Stringer said energy bill costs were high on the agenda in Suffolk and demonstrated that the current system was “not really functioning correctly”.

“Anything that changes policy to allow communities and others to have access, buy and sell into the grid has to be one of the most urgent ways we can affect policy to limit the amount of strain of price increases in the future for our residents,” he said.

“If we wish our grid to de-carbonise we need to democratise and localise it.”

Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for environment and public protection, said the benefits of the shared...

Conservative cabinet member for finance and the environment at Suffolk County Council, Richard Rout - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Conservative cabinet member for finance and the environment at Suffolk County Council, Richard Rout, said: “It should be easier for local companies, community groups and indeed the council to be providers of locally-generated renewable electricity.”

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