With the government releasing its latest White Paper on shaping future energy delivery and consumption in the UK, what are the roles and responsibilities of council leaders in shaping future energy deliver and consumption in the UK?
In this new LGiU guide – ‘The 10 Pillars of Local Energy Security’ (pdf) – I propose that the main responsibility for leaders in councils is energy security.
Communities, businesses and the council itself need energy to function and the supply should be reliable and sustainable. To achieve this, a set of key factors for councils: ‘The 10 Pillars of Local Energy Security’:
1) Keep the lights on
2) Manage costs
3) Install the right technology
5) Reduce carbon emissions
6) Minimise the impacts on communities
7) Maximise the benefits for communities
8) Make decisions democratically
9) Look to the long term
10) Get the right advice
These are all strategic issues that leaders in councils need to be thinking about, and are matters for which councils need authoritative, independent support tailored to their needs.
Yet LGiU research shows that most councils are confused by the choices available to them in these areas, such as around Feed in Tariffs (FITs).
In the guide each of the 10 strategic issues are discussed in more detail, with the key associated problems identified.
Of these issues, the councils role of ‘keeping the lights on’ is central. Indeed, this is in the context of government policies seeking to decentralise energy supply, and a situation where councils will be consulted on type and location of energy supplied developed. Other associated issues to contend with include infrastructure for the smart grid, electric vehicle power points and making manufacturing space available for new low carbon industries.
Running parallel to this, the guide goes on to highlight questions around costs in the short and long term of different options; decisions around technology options; and the need to comply with government regulations such as the CRC.
While dealing with decisions, opportunities, incentives and regulations; the guide also argues that councils must be looking to minimise the impact of adverse changes on their communities, while also maximising potential benefits. Issue include energy costs, the impact of developments on the landscape, confusion over changes, and the opportunity to take advantage of government incentives such as the Feed in Tariff (FIT) and Green New Deal.
Decisions must be taken democratically, as they affect people so fundamentally at the local level. Options should be debated, choices presented, arguments clear and action accountable. These choices must also understand and take into account the long term nature of many of the energy investments being considered.
In conclusion, the guide stresses that leaders must get the right advice for these energy security and long-term significant changes, for which in-house expertise is often not available.
For more information on ‘The Ten Pillars of Local Energy Security’ please contact Andy on 020 7554 2823 or on email@example.com
Andy Johnston is the Chief Executive of Local Energy