Topics discussed included Ofgem’s Access and Forward-Looking Charges Significant Code Review, DNO Business Plan submissions and community energy in Europe.
Last week marked Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) second Community Energy Forum of the year, with the theme of ‘Communities in our future energy system’. Introduced last year, the forums demonstrate one of the ways that ENA is committed to helping community groups voices be heard by the networks. Hosted by community energy and engagement specialists Regen, along with the support and input of Community Energy England, Community Energy Wales and Local Energy Scotland, 20 community energy representatives joined via Zoom from all over the UK to provide direct feedback.
Two in-depth and productive roundtable sessions were held during the forum: the first on DNO Business Plan submissions as led by John Spurgeon, ENA’s Head of Regulatory Policy, and the second on the proposals in Ofgem’s Minded-to-Decision on the Access and Forward-looking Charges SCR as led by David McCrone, Senior Manager, Charging and Access at Ofgem. On the former, Community groups in attendance called for:
- dedicated teams of ‘community energy champions’,
- more network data to be made available from constrained areas to help create business models around flexibility; and,
- a forum to simulate flexibility markets for communities.
Community renewables projects were a high priority for those in attendance too. Ofgem helped attendees navigate the proposals in it's Minded-to-Decision on the Access and Forward-looking Charges Significant Code Review, discussing how it might affect those projects and the business models for communities looking to connect to the network. Attendees were supportive of proposals to make network connection charges for generation shallower and to remove reinforcement charges for demand connections.
Overall, community energy organisations wanted to see more urgency to help tackle the climate emergency, by favouring low carbon technologies connecting to the network and socialising connection costs for these projects.
Farina Farrier, Head of Open Networks at Energy Networks Association, commented:
“There’s no Net Zero without community energy groups and projects; they are vital in the transition to a low-carbon, more decentralised energy system and have some of the most ambitious climate plans in the country. These forums help us to collaborate with and support them in a more meaningful way, ensuring that we are delivering the transition together by taking everyone with us on the journey.”
Jodie Giles, Senior Project Manager, Regen, added:
“Achieving Net Zero will require all our best ideas and collaborative efforts, which is why Regen are so pleased to be supporting ENA to engage communities in the energy transition. This set of forums for local energy stakeholders has enabled representatives from Ofgem, ENA and energy networks to listen to communities who act as the social conscience for the industry and help ensure the energy revolution is just and fair.”
The session also heard from GEODE, a trade association which represents more than 1200 European independent gas and electricity distribution companies, who provided an overview of their recently launched fact sheet on energy communities, which shares a range of insights and discusses the possible roles for Community Energy Groups with DSOs and vice versa. They are hosting an associated webinar Workshop on Energy Communities on Wednesday 29 September, 9:30-11:00 CET and invite any UK based Community Energy Groups to attend.
Notes to editor
- Launching on Friday 30 July and running for eight weeks, ENA’s Open Networks Flexibility Consultation seeks views and thoughts from across the entire industry and getting a strong response from community groups is vital to our future work on flexibility. The project team will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday 18 August at 14:00 to run stakeholders through the consultation document and how they can engage with it, along with holding an interactive Q&A, and we would welcome any stakeholders with an interest in this area to join.
- The Energy Networks Innovation Conference (ENIC), run by ENA, is taking place as a free virtual event between 12-15 October. For the first time this year the event will have a panel session – on Thursday 14th at 13:00 – dedicated to highlighting Community energy groups and projects achievements across 2021. Please see the website for more information.
- Regen is a not-for-profit centre of energy expertise and market insight whose mission is to transform the world’s energy systems for a zero-carbon future.
- Community energy refers to the delivery of community-led renewable energy, energy demand reduction and energy supply projects, whether wholly owned and/or controlled by communities or through partnership with commercial or public sector partners.
- Community energy has the potential to draw people in, not just as consumers but also as active participants, or partners, in a process of change.
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).