Community dividend: Changing our relationship with energy

Earlier this week I was asked to write an article about Labour’s Energy policy should look like in 2015.  I’ll post my thoughts on that when the article is published.  But in the course of my research, I revisited an article I wrote a couple of years ago for a collection of essays on the priorities for a low carbon transition on the Policy Network’s Politics of Climate Change blog.

In my contribution, I argued that we need to change the relationship citizens have with energy by giving communities a stake in energy generation. The analogy I drew was with the way in which changes to home ownership in the 1970s and 1980s improved our housing stock.

“Taking housing as an analogy, changing the ownership of our housing stock during the 1970s and 80s, increasing the number of owner-occupiers, was the solution to modernising our homes. As we move towards more renewables, a similar change in the ownership of our energy system could help modernise our energy system – introducing  a ‘community dividend’ so that communities can ‘own’ a stake in energy production, perhaps in return for a fast track planning process or as a new version of planning gain agreements. Owning such a stake could enable communities to share in the profits and help tackle fuel poverty. But, more importantly, just as home owners make decisions about their homes for reasons not just financial, a community stake could also help change the role and perspective of energy companies – taking their long-term responsibilities for the energy infrastructure, their charging structures and their impact on the environment more seriously.”

It still makes sense to me.  The original article is here.

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