The renewable energy industry has welcomed the decision by the Government to let local councils sell green electricity to the grid.
Currently there is a ban on councils
selling renewable electricity
to the National Grid. The move to overturn the ban, contained in the1976 Local Government Act, was announced by Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, today. It means councils in England will be able to sell electricity generated from local wind turbines and anaerobic digestion to top up budgets under pressure from swinging public sector cuts.
Huhne said he wanted to see the ban repealed within the next six months. "By the end of the year I hope local authorities will be able to sell electricity from renewables
– generating revenue to help local services and keep Council Tax down," he said.
Responding to the announcement, Gaynor Hartnell, head of the Renewable Energy Association, the industrial body for the UK’s renewables industry, said: "This move will allow councils to take a central role in greening the nation."
Carbon Reduction Commitment
The CRC is a new mandatory cap and trade scheme aimed at getting non-energy intensive businesses and organisations to cut their carbon emissions. But it is seen as undermining the business case for on-site renewable energy generation because it rules that businesses and organisations cannot claim their electricity as zero carbon (even if it is) if they are also claiming renewable energy subsidies on the power.
"Unfortunately the Carbon Reduction Commitment remains a barrier to on-site renewables, including large local authorities. We’d like to see the new Government bring down this barrier too," said Gaynor.
Local councils 'named and shamed'
Huhne announced the repeal of the ban on councils to sell renewable electricity as he unveiled the carbon footprint of every local council in England at the Local Government Association annual conference in Bournemouth. The list 'names and shames’ the highest emitting councils through powering and heating their buildings
, business travel
, fleet vehicles and refuse trucks.
The worst performing councils were led by Birmingham, which produced 177,360 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions equivalent in the 2008/09 financial year. It was followed by Hertfordshire (168,570 tonnes), Lancashire (157,890 tonnes), Leeds (136,900 tonnes) and Hampshire (133,950 tonnes).
Local authorities with the smallest carbon footprint included East Cambridgeshire (574 tonnes), East Northamptonshire (606 tonnes), Broadland (806 tonnes), Isles of Scilly (854 tonnes), and West Somerset (881 tonnes).
Huhne said that by calculating their emissions and the estimated costs of energy use, local councils would be better able to identify how to save emissions
and save money.
"Wasting energy means that money that could be spent on local services is also being wasted. These new statistics should put energy wastage and energy efficiency
at the forefront of the minds of councillors and council officials," he said.
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