Electricity distribution network operator (DNO) Northern Powergrid has published its Community Energy Engagement Strategy, detailing how it will foster the growth of community energy across the north of England.
According to the document, across the UK, community energy projects generated 168MW of electricity in 2018, enough to supply 64,000 homes.
At least 21 of these organisations currently operate within Northern Powergrid’s region, not just generating renewable energy to address the climate emergency but also delivering local social, environmental and economic benefits, such as helping to alleviate fuel poverty.
The strategy draws on months of engagement with community energy stakeholders that are working to tackle the climate emergency to evaluate their past collaborations. The document sets out 26 actions Northern Powergrid will implement to proactively engage with these stakeholders, helping to amplify their voice, increase opportunities to engage with the DNO, and ultimately enable more community energy organisations to thrive in the region.
Northern Powergrid is already active in the community energy sector, providing financial and practical support for initiatives to assess the value of projects for the network and its customers. For example, Northern Powergrid was the first UK DNO to set up a fund for community energy projects back in 2015.
The financed projects have reached more than 5,000 people with grants ranging from £1,000 to £10,000 per community project. Since 2018, the Community Partnering Fund has been managed in partnership with Northern Gas Networks allowing community groups to bid for a range of energy-related community projects.
Anda Baumerte, Sustainability Manager and Community Energy Contact at Northern Powergrid, said: ‘Our role is about more than keeping the lights on – we are a key enabler for regional decarbonisation. It is integral that we work collectively with the communities we support in order to address the climate emergency. This strategy demonstrates our commitment to go above and beyond to deliver on our common goals.”
Emma Bridge, CEO of Community Energy England, said: ‘The path to net-zero requires us to collaborate to ensure the transition is fair and leaves no community behind.
‘By publishing this strategy, it’s clear that Northern Powergrid is taking its role as an enabler of community energy seriously. The company is demonstrating its commitment to delivering meaningful environmental, social, and local economic benefits across Yorkshire and the North East and we look to working with them to make that happen.’