It feels like a long time since Power for People started with a very basic website, built on a cramped desk and trying to take an idea for renewable energy for all and put it firmly on the map of UK politics. With a shiny and much-improved new website now launching, a bit more desk space, and over 100 MPs signed-up to our Local Electricity Bill, it’s with a lot of happiness and a tiny bit of pride that we think it’s safe to say – we’ve come a long way.
And we couldn’t have done it without you. People have told friends, written to MPs, signed up, and each of these tiny acts helped take us one step at a time closer to the reality of having cross-party support for a law change that could revolutionise the way we make energy in the UK.
For those of you new to what we’re doing here, a quick recap.
The UK energy system is still dominated by a few large companies. You’ve probably heard of them, they’re often called (not very affectionately), The Big Six. They supply electricity to the country, but the outcome – a few, large and centralised suppliers selling electricity at high prices – is the exact opposite of what we want and what the Local Electricity Bill can deliver. That is: lots of small energy producers, spread across the country and able to keep profits in the community.
It is as good as it sounds, and all it needs to make it a reality is the change in the law that we’re chasing with the Local Electricity Bill. By getting this into law, OFGEM – the regulator – would be required to make it more straightforward to become an energy supplier. If we can simplify this procedure, and reduce the costs of getting started, we can make a country where you can start buying electricity that isn’t from the Big Six, or even a traditional power company at all, but from your neighbour, the solar-equipped post office on your corner, the Scout troop at the bottom of the hill, or the school your children go to.
Our Bill is one of those solutions that takes its strength from the fact that it solves a lot of problems at the same time. The UK is doing OK in its shift to renewable power, but it’s still way off-target to meet legally-binding targets for carbon reduction. By making it possible for local communities and small businesses to take advantage of the falling costs of renewable technologies, there’s massive potential to use a healthy dose of market forces to help the rollout become a little more viral.
As local communities struggle with the weight of spending cuts and economic uncertainty, changing the law to allow groups to profit from the power they’re generating also opens up a valuable way of generating funds to be spent on vital services locally. Your energy bill could be spent funding the local youth club, a women’s refuge, or a Sunday league football team. Without the profits of big energy companies to consider, the money stays where it can do most good.
It really is that transformative, and it really is that possible. With a cross-party group of 108 MPs now signed up and sponsoring the Local Electricity Bill in Parliament, things are going in the right direction, but there’s still more to be done. If you can help by telling people what we’re doing, asking your MP to back the Bill, or getting in touch to tell us how you think you might be able to support us in any other way, then we’d love to hear from you.
And in the meantime, feel free to take a look around the new site and see what you think. We’re happy to have found ourselves a new home online, and we’re making ourselves comfortable because – in every way – we’re in it for the long haul.
Steve, Bruna, Manpreet, Julian and all the team at Power for People