Distribution network operator Northern Powergrid has published a Community Energy Engagement Strategy for its region of the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.
The region currently hosts 21 community energy organisations, which deliver local social, environmental and economic benefits, and help alleviate fuel poverty, as well as generating power. The new strategy sets out 26 actions for Northern Powergrid to help it engage with such groups, amplify their voice and ultimately help community energy organisations thrive in the region. The company intends to test, refine and perfect these ideas over the next three years as it prepares its business plan for 2023-2028. The actions are in five groups:
Listen – Continue to listen to communities through ongoing engagement, including interviews for independent research and further work to engage new community energy organisations.
Inform – Keep communities up to date and informed about its activities, with the aim that these will become more collaborative over time.
Engage – Engage early, recognising that good engagement takes time, and ensuring that it facilitates a strong network of community and local energy organisations in the region.
Empower – Empower and build the capacity of community energy organisations to participate in and contribute to the changing energy system.
Advocate – Recognise that communities don’t have the capacity and time to lobby, so amplify their voice.
Anda Baumerte, sustainability manager and community energy contact at Northern Powergrid, said: “Our role is about more than keeping the lights on – we are a key enabler for regional decarbonisation. It is integral that we work collectively with the communities we support in order to address the climate emergency. This strategy demonstrates our commitment to go above and beyond to deliver on our common goals.”
Northern Powergrid first set up a fund for community energy projects in 2015, which has awarded grants ranging from £1,000 to £10,000 per community project. Since 2018, the Community Partnering Fund has been managed in partnership with Northern Gas Networks.