02/10/18 – Residential solar to help power Hackney’s proposed energy company 

Article by Solar Power Portal – published: 1 Nov 2018, 11:41 
David Pratt Deputy UK Editor 

Hackney Council is preparing to establish its own energy company
powered in part by solar panels to be deployed on up to 15,000 council
homes in an effort to drive the supply and generation of renewable
energy.

An Energy Company Delivery Board is due to be set up by January 2019
to develop the plans and fulfil a pledge made by the Labour council in
its 2018 manifesto.

It said the “publicly-owned municipal energy company” would offer
“significantly cheaper, clean energy to residents and generate income
for the creation of a ‘social dividend’ from which all of the
borough’s residents will benefit”. This will be helped by plans to
install solar on half of the council’s 30,000 homes, although the
exact number of suitable properties is yet to be determined.

It will aim to extend the work done by other municipal companies such
as Robin Hood Energy, which was established by Nottingham City Council
in 2015, by limiting financial risk while placing the growth of
renewable energy sources as one of its top priorities.

This will be in response to subsidy cuts that have been enacted on
solar in recent years with the feed-in tariff, and potentially that
paid for export, to end in March next year.

Councillor Jon Burke, cabinet member for energy, sustainability &
community services, said: “In the face of limited, and often
retrograde, central government action, Hackney is joining a movement
across local government that is helping to transform the energy system
from one underpinned by fossil fuels, to one characterised by clean
and extremely low carbon sources of energy.

“It is our aim to protect residents and the environment we live in. By
ensuring there is another publicly-owned, publicly-accountable energy
company in the marketplace, we believe we can achieve these goals
while placing reputational pressure on the dominant players of the
energy world, driving change more broadly.”

Almost 10,000 households in Hackney are thought to be in fuel poverty,
with the council hoping its new energy company will be able to help it
tackle the issue and help vulnerable residents.

Moving on from a “white-label whitewash”

The same reasoning was applied by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan during
his successful 2016 campaign in which he pledged to establish an
‘Energy for Londoners’ not-for-profit company. This was intended to
provide a range of energy services including buying clean energy
generated across the city to power London’s public buildings and
eventually its homes.

This was later branded a “white-label whitewash” by campaigners after
the Mayor’s office instead decided to tender for the delivery of an
energy supply company, with existing suppliers invited to take part,
rather than a fully licensed supply company powered by renewables.

However, a pilot scheme was announced in January to buy power from
housing association Peabody Services’ solar installations and a CHP
Plant at Woolwich Arsenal owned by Scottish & Southern Energy, to help
power two Transport for London train depots.

Meanwhile some London boroughs have already taken steps to set up
their own energy companies with Islington Council launching London’s
first municipal energy provider in more than a century back in October
2017.

Like Islington’s partner Robin Hood Energy, Angelic Energy does not
offer a fully renewable supply and while it remains unclear if Hackney
Council’s proposition will, it is expected to include a higher
proportion in its energy mix.