Gareth Thomas MP proposing Community Right to Invest in Energy Companies

Gareth Thomas MP, Chair of the Co-operative Party, is introducing a bill tomorrow that would create a new right for communities to invest in new energy generation projects and to takeover ownership of their local electricity grid supply.

The Energy Generation (Planning and Right to Invest) Bill would also establish Community Power Direct to help local communities to buy shares in new energy investment, pool their shares through a co-operative or mutual, to have a say in how profits are allocated and the business is run, and which would have to be consulted before planning applications for new energy projects were approved. This is a policy developed in our Collective Power model and in the 2010 manifesto.

The Bill would create a right of first refusal for local communities to take over the ownership of the grid in their area if and when the grid is put up for sale by its then owners. It would also introduce a licensing process for new “infill” grid networks (for example where a major new housing development requires new grid infrastructure). Ofgem would be tasked with licensing the new grid infrastructure and again the local community would be given a right to tender for the licence to run the grid.

Gareth’s Bill comes at a time of rising energy prices which are increasingly squeezing family incomes and when other countries are racing ahead of Britain in levels of investment in renewable and decentralised energy. Additionally, since this Government came to power, the UK has slipped from third in the world for investment in green growth to thirteenth, falling behind countries like Brazil and India. Investment that should be coming to the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, growth and industry in this country, is now going overseas.

Gareth Thomas MP said, “Local people should have the right to invest in, benefit from and have a say in how our future energy is produced and run.

“Helping people to have a say through a co-operative in how a vital community need is produced could help communities to be just that little bit more resilient and that little more able to stand up against the vested interests that have driven up energy prices and driven down energy investment.”