Co-op Energy commits to community energy development

Co-op Energy has announced a new range of targets for community energy development in the UK.

The supplier, which is part of the Midcounties Co-operative and has 400,000 customers, has committed to progress in areas such as power purchase support, local supply innovation, customer engagement and lobbying for good.

Mark Billsborough, head of renewable energy at Co-op Energy, said: “Innovative, community-based projects are a fantastic demonstration of the power of working together at a local level.

“Projects like West Solent Solar and the Schools Energy Co-operative have proven that they can have a significant impact on the nature of energy generation, both in their own communities and in the UK, and we are committed to helping the sector to grow.”

Co-op Energy has 40 power purchase agreements in place with community energy generators, up from nine in 2014. It now wants to increase that to 60 over the next three years.

It is also supporting trials of innovative new ‘time of use’ and ‘local energy’ tariff, has pledged to work with schools and local groups to demonstrate the positive impacts of community energy on local communities and has said it will continue the lobbying of policy makers for a more balanced legislative and regulatory regime that recognises the value of fair, low carbon co-operative solutions.

The new commitments form part of a new Community Energy Strategy that will be reviewed annually, with progress reported in Midcounties’ annual Social Responsibility Report.

Other targets include revamping and expanding its ‘User Chooser’ and rolling out a Co-op Energy Saving offer with expanded range of products and services.

“Our support for community projects and the volunteers that drive them is unique, but we believe there is potential to take them to even greater heights if people continue to work together,” said Mr Billsborough.

Co-op Energy is sponsoring Community Energy Fortnight (24 June – 9 July 2017) for the fourth year in a row, and is a full member of advocacy bodies Community Energy England and REScoop.

Emma Bridge, chief executive of Community Energy England, said: “We welcome Co-op Energy’s new Community Energy Strategy as a powerful contribution to the development of the sector.

“After a period of rapid growth, community energy now faces a number of hurdles in the UK and so the launch of this new strategy from Co-op Energy is a timely and significant boost.”

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Article by Rebecca Harvey

Co-operative News