Community Energy England: Community ownership requirement is not a burden

The government’s proposed requirement for renewable developers to offer ownership of plants to communities should not be seen as a burden, according to Community Energy England.

Recent government proposals call for developers to offer communities the opportunity to invest in local renewable projects. The Queen’s Speech in June introduced the concept of Community Electricity Right which could force developers to offer investment opportunities in local projects through legislation.

CEE director Philip Wolfe explained why he thinks the proposals are a positive step for the industry. He said: “We understand why some commercial companies believe it will act as a drag on their developments. That’s why CEE is setting up a platform to help them find project-ready partners in the community sector. We hope and expect that most developers will recognise how this change can benefit their projects; and will engage positively, rather than trying to water down the proposals.”

The government’s Shared Ownership Taskforce has recommended three options to boost community ownership of renewable projects. CCE summarises the options:

  • Split ownership: where the generating station is divided into separate plants; one owned by the commercial developer and the other by a community organisation
  • Joint ownership: where the corporate and community partners each own a share of a single generating plant
  • Shared revenue: where the plant is developed and operated by the commercial partner with the community group buying the right to a proportion of the project’s income

“The taskforce has made an excellent start with this report,” comments Kathy Smyth, policy director CCE. “The focus on genuine ownership models through established community organisations is welcome. While supporting these key features, our response will also call for a higher level of ambition. It is crucial that commercial developers genuinely embrace the voluntary scheme, so that government doesn’t need to fall back on the legislative powers it is sensibly putting in its back pocket.”

CEE is organising a seminar on the benefits of shared ownership in London on 18 September in order to allay developers’ concerns.