October 1, 2023

Householders to receive money off bills for going green under Labour plans

3 min read

People across the UK will receive cost of living discounts – such as reductions on their council tax – if their cities, towns and villages sign up to new “clean energy” projects, under ambitious plans to be announced by Labour tomorrow.

Keir Starmer and shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband will spell out how a new public body, GB Energy, will join forces with local government, communities and the private sector with the aim of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and bringing down household energy bills.

The Local Power Plan will see projects such as solar panels being put on public land or the roofs of housing estates, and empower communities to come forward with their own bespoke projects for renewable energy projects directly owned by local people.

It will also encourage partnerships with the Scottish and Welsh governments and with regional mayors to help them develop their own local clean power plans.

A key condition of GB Energy putting in public money would be that local communities would have to see financial benefits from the part they were playing in the clean power revolution. Starmer and Miliband will announce that GB Energy will make available up to £600m in funding for local authorities and up to £400m in low-interest loans each year for communities, creating up to a million owners of renewable power by 2030.

Profits from the energy that would be sold to the grid from local renewable schemes would be given back to the communities through discounts on council tax or help with energy bills for those who are most in need.

Earlier this month Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, scaled back plans to borrow £28bn a year to invest in green jobs and industry in reaction to the negative economic backdrop and to bolster Labour’s reputation for fiscal credibility.

But the party remains determined to keep plans for a green industrial revolution at the heart of its policy programme, seeing it as a way to boost the economy, create jobs, bring down energy bills and tackle climate change.

Labour’s plans stand in stark contrast with Tory policy, under which planning rules have in effect put a block on more onshore wind energy just as world leaders increase the urgency of their calls to tackle global warming. Ed Miliband said: “GB Energy is about putting power and wealth back in the hands of the British people.
“For the first time in generations, a public institution will be building energy across Britain, and the profits will go directly to working people.

“In their towns, cities and villages, we want the British people to see the benefits of Labour’s clean energy revolution in lower bills and jobs.
“This is just the start of the transformation of our energy system and our economy that a Labour government will bring.”

The scheme will align Britain with the established practice in European countries. The early success of wind cooperatives in Denmark means 52% of wind energy is community owned, and in Germany at least 50% of onshore wind is citizen owned.

“The next Labour government will be builders, not blockers, when it comes to clean power,” said Starmer. “I want local people to see the benefit of that power, and with Labour they will. We will bring power home with our GB Energy, a publicly owned energy company building clean power for the first time in generations, with the profits flowing back to the British people.

“People want to know what our plans mean for their community: from onshore wind in Wales to rooftop solar panels in our cities to community energy in Scotland, Labour will seize the power of Britain’s sun, wind and water to put clean power in the grid and profits in the pockets of the British people.”

Miliband added: In every other country driving forward with clean power, publicly owned energy generation is creating wealth and benefitting local people.”The UK, he said, “needs a plan to put an end to the energy bills crisis once and for all”.

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