Labour and Co-operative MP Luciana Berger has called on the government to support green energy co-operatives in the roll out of the coalition’s “green deal” policy. Speaking at a debate in Parliament secured by Labour Co-operative MPs to discuss the future of co-ops and mutuals she set out a number of concerns about how the scheme was to work in practice.

Typically of the Coalition’s warm words but scant action on co-operatives, however, Luciana’s arguments, and the amendments she has tabled to the Energy Bill, have been rejected by the government.

Luciana highlighted the fact that, despite having claimed to be interested in promoting mutuals, the Coalition had removed support for a number of co-ops and had rejected plans for the establishment of new mutuals operating in the green energy sector. One of the areas that has come off worst from the government’s abandonment of the sector is community based green energy schemes, where local people come together to generate green electricity through wind farms or solar projects. The government intends to cut the feed-in-tariff subsidy for projects that generate more than 50kw. This decision severely threatens the financial viability of such projects. Luciana argued that this decision was made worse by the accompanying plan to remove tax relief under the enterprise investment scheme for feed in tariff FIT eligible projects.  Feed in tariffs are the scheme whereby individuals are paid by power companies to produce their own electricity.

She stated that this decision alone was “harming at least 20 communities planning a community share launch soon”

This decision has also been condemned by Labour leader Ed Miliband who has signed a tabled motion and prompted a parliamentary debate on a plan that will effectively destroy the non-domestic community energy sector.

On the subject of the coalition’s green deal scheme, Luciana said Labour had a vision of a marketplace in which “small businesses, co-operatives, mutuals and social enterprises are able to compete equally alongside the big energy companies and supermarkets”

The policy, piloted by Labour in government, would allow homeowners and tenants to borrow money to make improvements to the energy efficiency of their home. Luciana has made several attempts to get the government to guarantee fair access for co-ops and commit to reducing the administrative costs they would incur by tabling amendments to the Energy Bill. These amendments are vital in order to open up the scheme and promote the role of mutuals in helping deliver a greener Britain.  However the Tory-led Government voted down Luciana’s amendments.

Concluding her contribution to the debate on co-operatives and mutuality in the economy she pleaded that the government reconsider their decisions that will do so much damage to the co-operative energy sector. Making the case that climate change is a global problem, Luciana pointed out that co-operation is the best way to tackle this pressing issue.