January newsletter and Local Energy Efficiency Network update
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January 2015 news
Dear <<First Name>> 

Welcome to the first LEEN newsletter of 2015

In this edition:
  • Local Energy is a growing five-year-old! Read our latest news
  • Dates for March LEEN events
  • DECC's Green Deal and ECO annual report
  • Peterborough and Glasgow doing interesting things
  • No place for councils in community energy?
  • Community Energy funding
  • Financing energy efficiency

Local Energy news

Local Energy is five years old this month, and we're having a double celebration because 2014 was our most successful year yet. Our Green Deal and ECO delivery services really took off and we were busier than ever, which meant we were able to contribute a larger sum to our parent organisation, the local democracy charity LGiU (Local Government Information Unit).

To support our continuing growth, in the Autumn of last year we took on three additional members of staff - Ashley Seale and Nina Doherty work in our new Manchester office on Green Deal and ECO projects, whilst Stewart Manegold is based on the South coast managing our Solent Green Deal contract.

The Manchester office is headed by Peter Chasmer, who has been with Local Energy since 2010 and is now our Head of Green Deal Delivery. As well as overseeing the Solent project, Pete is working closely with partners in the North East to deliver Green Deal services in Newcastle and surrounding areas, as well as bringing forward projects in other parts of the UK.

Local Energy's Chief Executive, Andy Johnston, splits his time between Manchester and London - although he's often to be found travelling the country making new contacts and developing projects with local councils, based around the Green Deal and ECO delivery.

As Head of Programme Development, Karen Lawrence will continue to manage ECO contracts and run the Local Energy Efficiency Network (LEEN) from her London base. In addition, there will be a new focus on community energy, particularly exploring the role that local authorities can play.

LEEN event dates

The next network events will take place in London on 17th March and Manchester on 18th March. To reserve your place, please go to our website and complete the online booking form.

Foundations in Place?

Last month, DECC released its Green Deal and ECO Annual Report for 2013/14, entitled 'Foundations in Place'. 

The report includes a number of statistics; most loudly trumpeted is progress towards installing measures in one million homes by March 2015 - which the Government now claims to have met, four months early. No mention is made, however, of the earlier missed targets, such as Greg Barker's original aim to sign up 10,000 Green Deal plans in the first year. In fact, the report identifies just 3,239 'live' plans up to October 2014, with a further 3,968 in the pipeline, almost two years after the launch.

Whilst it's hard to be entirely convinced by this unswervingly positive report, it is undeniable that 2014 marked a turning point for the Green Deal. As a Green Deal Provider, Local Energy has seen increased levels of interest from householders and private landlords (largely due to the GDHIF giveaways); we have completed a greater number of Green Deal installations and finance plans; and we have begun to see more opportunities for 'blending' - using a combination of Green Deal finance, Green Deal Communities funding, ECO, GDHIF/cashback and other sources of finance such as credit unions.

Looking forward, the report confirms that the next round of GDHIF funding is expected to open in February, and quarterly thereafter. Also, ECO1 ends in March, with ECO2 funding available from April 2015 to March 2017. Councils wishing to take advantage of these funding opportunities for local residents should act quickly as funding disappears very fast and ECO availability and pricing is highly volatile.

Innovative projects in Peterborough

A strategic partnership between Peterborough City Council and AVIC, a Chinese company with expertise in renewable energy and energy efficiency, will bring investment and regeneration to the city. 

Councillor Marco Cereste, council leader, said: “Peterborough is committed to becoming the environment capital of the UK. Our partnership with AVIC will give us access to expertise, infrastructure and funding that will help us achieve this goal.

"We have already identified renewable energy schemes, energy efficiency improvements, city-wide wi-fi, passenger transport improvements and infrastructure investments that could all benefit from this partnership".

Two projects earmarked for potential investment this municipal year include the installation of solar PV canopies in Peterborough car parks and the installation of LED street lighting technology. 

Peterborough residents could soon benefit from cheaper energy bills, too. The council is entering into partnership with OVO to establish bespoke dual and single fuel (electricity only) energy tariffs.

OVO will create tariffs, exclusive to residents with Peterborough postcodes, that are amongst the cheapest in the country. The new tariffs will be jointly branded between OVO and Peterborough City Council. OVO will manage and operate the scheme, whilst the council will promote the new tariffs in the city. It is the council's involvement in marketing the scheme that will allow OVO to offer residents a cheaper price for their energy.

The initial aim of the partnership is to establish these new tariffs; however, over the course of the agreement other opportunities could include:
• the roll-out of smart meters to residents;
• Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) funding for local projects;
• an agreement for OVO to purchase energy generated by the council.

Resilient Glasgow

Glasgow City Council has appointed Alastair Brown as Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a new position created to lead city-wide resilience building efforts.

As CRO, Alastair will oversee the development and implementation of a resilience plan for the city, addressing extreme weather such as storms and flooding caused by climate change; securing sustainable and affordable energy supplies amid increasing pressure on the national grid; and tackling poverty.

I wonder if this could be the start of a trend. Do you think a CRO could be good for your organisation?

Community Energy - are councils being sidelined?

A special edition of People, Place and Policy last month focused on community energy, including a paper by Jez Tweed of Calderdale Council entitled Local Energy Collaboration: The role of local authorities in community energy.

Whilst Jez's piece points out that " ‘grassroots’ projects face barriers to their deployment" and argues for greater support from local authorities, the editorial comments that "The UK government’s Community Energy Strategy (2014) is ambivalent on the role of local authorities in community energy, marking them out as partners to those seeking to deliver projects rather than as drivers". 

Elsewhere, Pure Leapfrog has produced an introductory guide Community Energy for Local Authorities.

Money for urban community energy

The Urban Community Energy Fund launched at the end of November. Community groups can apply for grants and loans to support renewable energy developments. The first deadline for applications has passed, but there are further deadlines at the end of January, February and March 2015. Thereafter, applications will be assessed at the end of every other month until September 2017.

NB Local Authorities may only apply in partnership with the local community. For example, if a Local Authority wished to use its own land or buildings to host a community renewable energy project, the application must come from an incorporated body that creates a partnership between the Local Authority and the community – e.g. ‘Borchester Community Energy CIC’. Such an organisation should have clear representation from the local community and a defined, transparent
process for managing the income and determining what it will be spent on.

The Rural Community Energy Fund also continues to be available.

Financing energy efficiency

DECC and Local Partnerships have updated their Guide to Financing Energy Efficiency in the Public Sector. Most local authorities will already be aware of much of the advice, but it offers a useful overview.

One of the areas covered in the guide is Energy Performance Contracting. Rather helpfully, DECC has just published a Model Energy Performance Contract and guide to best practices for the public sector.

And finally... it looks like the end really is nigh

Co-authored by several dozen of the nation’s top climatologists, a new climate change study released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program reportedly consists of 400 pages in which scientists just tell Americans to read previous climate change studies.

But seriously, new research published in Science magazine finds four out of nine 'planetary boundaries' have now been crossed. Biodiversity loss, fertiliser use, climate change and land use have all exceeded the point at which the risk of sliding into a "much less hospitable" world becomes high.

And here's a nice infographic called How Many Gigatons of Carbon Dioxide...?  to cheer you up.

Connect with Local Energy


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Upcoming LEEN events

Next events:
Tuesday 17 March - London
Wednesday 18 March - Manchester

Visit our website to book your place.

Please make a note of the dates in your diary!
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