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Open Networks Project launches Community Energy Forums to build an all-inclusive energy system

01 October 2019


The Open Networks Project’s commitment to building an all-inclusive energy system has reached a new milestone as the project has announced a series of ‘Community Energy Forums’ to be held throughout 2020.

Announced at the Community Energy England Conference last Friday, which was jointly hosted and sponsored by Energy Networks Association ahead of the Community Energy Awards at City Hall, the forums will give community groups a dedicated place to speak directly with project representatives to provide input Open Networks’ public consultations, as well as discuss other issues relevant to Community groups such as connections.

The commitment to these forums will see events held around the country throughout 2020 at key points for the project, such as during public consultation periods. Community energy groups and projects are vital in the transition to a low-carbon energy network and meeting the Government’s ambitious Net Zero target. Holding forums to hear community energy perspectives will lend real momentum to the networks’ decarbonisation plans.

In July this year, Britain’s Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), National Grid TO and ESO, and independent DNO (iDNO) GTC, signed up to ENAs Our six steps for delivering flexibility services, a commitment to opening up markets for flexibility services, and make connecting to the grid as smooth and transparent as possible. The heart of the commitment sees the networks champion a level playing field, as well as providing a clear, open, and transparent customer journey through providing flexibility services.

With a third of Britain’s electricity now being generated from renewable sources that have been connected to energy networks, Britain has become a powerhouse of renewable energy. The Open Networks Project is seeking to build on this progress and reach Net Zero as quickly as possible by expanding local markets for flexibility services, of which community energy is a key player in helping to reach this target. These forums will provide community groups with the opportunity to highlight the challenges they face directly to the Open Networks Project and help to understand better how to get more of these vital resources involved in local flexibility markets.

The decarbonised energy future is as much local as it is national, and network companies are already working with local homes, businesses, and communities to ensure a lower cost, resilient, zero carbon energy system that leaves nobody behind. The new forums will provide a further chance for these key stakeholder groups to be a part of Britain’s vital energy transition to a smart grid.

Commenting on the announcement, David Smith, Chief Executive, ENA, said:

“Working closer with community energy partners will be helpful for the Open Networks Project, useful for community energy groups and good for the public as we look to build a Net Zero energy system fit for the future.

“This new formal commitment to further integrate community energy into the Project will help the vital work to decarbonise and decentralise our networks while improving the access that community groups have to the energy networks.”

Emma Bridge, Chief Executive, Community Energy England, added:

“Community energy organisations across the UK are exploring new ways to accelerate the transition to a fair, sustainable, smart and net zero energy system. These new Community Energy Forums will provide a meaningful and straight forward way for communities to contribute to the decarbonisation plans for the networks and to highlight opportunities for increasing local engagement and impact by community energy projects.”

Press contacts for journalists

Daniel Clelland

Communications Manager

Energy Networks Association

020 7706 5186

+44 (0) 7885 998360

ENA Press Office


Notes to editor

  • Community Energy England (CEE) is a not for profit organisation that represents and supports those committed to the community energy sector. CEE was established by the sector to provide a voice for community energy and to help create the conditions within which it can flourish. This is done by increasing the profile of community energy, sharing best practice and by advocating for supportive policies at national and local levels.
  • Energy Networks Association represents the companies responsible for operating the ‘wires and pipes’ of Britain’s energy network infrastructure.
  • The Open Networks Project brings together electricity transmission and distribution network companies with industry stakeholders, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the energy regulator Ofgem, to lay the foundations for the smart grid in Great Britain and inform future developments Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • 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.
  • Examples of flexibility services include:
    • Households charging their electric vehicles at off-peak times or when it is sunniest, whilst other households’ domestic solar panels are generating electricity.
    • Businesses striking demand-side response agreements to adjust their electricity use at the times of day when they least need it, helping reduce the need and cost of building new infrastructure.
    • Using battery storage to help network operators proactively manage a rapidly changing electricity grid where electricity now flows in many different directions, rather than in just one as it has done in the past.
  • ENA recently released their response to the BEIS and Ofgem open letter on Open Networks and its priorities for 2020. The full response can be found here.
  • ENA and its members recently launched a new commitment to support flexibility services. The full text of the Flexibility Commitment: Our Six Steps for Delivering Flexibility Services can be found here. The steps adopted will be fundamental in defining how the public, businesses and networks interact in the future by:
    • Championing a level playing field;
    • Ensuring visibility and accessibility;
    • Conducting procurement in an open and transparent manner;
    • Providing clarity on the dispatch of services;
    • Providing regular, consistent and transparent reporting;
    • Working together towards whole energy system outcomes
  • As a world leader in clean energy, this commitment builds on the work of ENA’s Open Networks Project, where the long-term roles and responsibilities of Britain’s local electricity networks are being redefined as new competitive markets for flexibility open up. ENA and its member electricity organisations has worked extensively and inclusively with stakeholders, sharing our flexibility developments and listening to wide reaching feedback at every step to arrive at these commitments.

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing 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 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 40,000 people in Great Britain.

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