Community energy projects—legal and policy issues
Produced in partnership with Matthew Collinson of Igloo Energy

The following Energy practice note produced in partnership with Matthew Collinson of Igloo Energy provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Community energy projects—legal and policy issues
  • What is community energy?
  • Types of community energy projects
  • Challenges for community energy projects
  • Government policy on community energy
  • Legal issues when advising on community energy projects
  • Access to funding and advice
  • Feed-in tariffs
  • Social Investment Tax Relief
  • Regulation of community shares
  • More...

Community energy projects—legal and policy issues

The former Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) first published a Community Energy Strategy in 2014. In March 2015, DECC published an update on the community energy strategy. As in the original strategy, the focus is on empowering local communities to take their own steps towards a more decentralised energy system with community participation.

(On 14 July 2016, DECC was merged with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to form the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).)

What is community energy?

According to the former DECC, community energy covers aspects of collective action to reduce, purchase, manage and generate energy. Community energy can mean different things to different people, but for the purposes of its first Community Energy Strategy in 2014, DECC decided that a ‘community’ could include both a geographical community and a community ‘of interest’. Community-based projects would also tend to emphasise ownership, leadership or control by the community (or at least shared community involvement) as well as some benefit for that community.

DECC spent some time between the first Community Energy Strategy and the updated strategy considering what legal form community involvement may take, but has steered away from anything prescriptive. The 2015 update suggests that DECC is seeking to create more flexibility to encourage a variety of potential funding arrangements—including partnerships with ‘traditional’ energy

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