Now that the Labour party has its mandate from the British people for change, let’s paint a picture of what the energy industry (which has profited from privatisation for decades) needs to do to turn around its reputation as the least trusted industry in the UK .

Dealing with the UK's nuclear legacy

Labour wants to make Britain a clean energy superpower. 

This makes a lot of sense once nuclear power is removed from the mix. Clearly, new nuclear will not factor in meeting Labour’s 2030 clean power target, whereas community energy will help create clean, affordable home grown energy. Hinkley Point C was estimated to cost £14 billion in 2016. Recent projections put the cost at £35 billion when it is completed in 2031.

The owners – French state owned EDF (who own two-thirds) and Chinese state owned CGN (one-third), will earn back their investment by passing the cost onto our energy bills, making any policy that supports the construction of new nuclear and small modular reactors, an unproven technology, a contradiction to the Labour promise to bring down energy bills. 

New nuclear power plants enlarge the financial burden for the taxpayer, who are ultimately the ones responsible for the cost of decommissioning the plants and for the safe disposal of the radioactive waste produced.

Labour's renewable energy goals

Labour promises to work with the private sector to double onshore wind and triple solar power. That it isn’t triple onshore wind and double solar power is an oversight in policymaking. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of electricity generation and works better to generate power in the winter, when we will need it to heat our homes and businesses. One of the first acts of the incoming Labour government was to remove the ban on onshore wind power

The Conservative de facto ban on onshore wind has eroded England’s skills in building wind farms. Replenishing these competencies requires significant investment rebuilding this supply chain, encouraging economic growth while ensuring low electricity prices fuelled by the UK’s most abundant natural resource – wind power.

Community-owned, rooftop solar power installed at Goldstone Primary School in Hove, with capital costs raised by community investors across the UK

Labour & community energy

Great British Energy is a means to supporting community energy organisations to develop local energy generation by making low interest finance available. 

Community groups are best placed to develop projects because they are social enterprises working for the benefit of people in the communities they serve. Community energy organisations are not funded by the taxpayer. 

They are self-supporting entities changing the energy industry from one that is profit maximising for the benefit of shareholders, to one that is maximising benefit for ordinary people. 

Community energy organisations have built a successful track record combating fuel poverty by insulating homes and building local, clean energy generation owned by the community to generate low cost power.

The new Labour government should work with community energy organisations that have the wherewithal to kickstart a prosperous clean economy, as they are better placed than trade unions or local authorities whose remit is social care, or profit driven organisations, like energy suppliers. 

Community energy organisations work with industry partners to support essential investment in the transmission and distribution grids that is required for our clean energy future. 

Communities that can generate and store their own power by way of wind and solar electricity generation and battery storage, or through the production of biomethane through natural anaerobic processes, will be the most secure with the lowest energy prices. Home grown, community owned energy is the best way to achieve true energy security for the nation.

Hopefully, the Labour Government will satisfy the nation’s appetite for change by making the best value for money investment for the taxpayer through its support for community energy.

Together, we can build a better future.