One thing we have learnt this week – councils generating energy

800px-Shelby_Farms_Solar_Farm_Memphis_TN_2013-02-02_008Councils generating energy was covered in “You and Yours”.   I have blogged before on how councils are trying to combat high energy prices by setting up energy companies to sell energy to their voters.  This week “You and Yours” had a report on them going further and covered two examples of councils generating energy.  I had never heard of this before.  Two councils are covered one has installed a huge “solar farm” (Forest Heath) and the other Bristol (no surprises there), has put up two wind turbines.  Both expect payback in 13 and 8 years respectively and neither is doing this primarily for environmental reasons.  Its a means of creating income to counter government grant cuts.

Whilst this has passed me by (almost), this story goes back to 2010.  Ed Milliband (remember him) when he was secretary of state for energy and climate change decided to overturn a law that banned councils from generating energy.  This was put into law when the energy companies were privatised by Mrs Thatcher to cut down on competition.  Labour were kicked out of power before this could be done, but Chris Huhne (remember him!?) in the coalition government changed the law.   There is a long history of councils in the UK owning energy companies going back to Joe Chamberlain in Birmingham.  He set up a gas company to provide money for social projects (and he was no lefty).  Anaerobic digestion is one obvious target for technologies since councils have responsibility for waste disposal.

Obviously all grants have been cut, but there is still talk on the programme of councils going ahead without them as the cost of solar falls.  Wind is more difficult due to planning changes at least in England and Wales.


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