Focus on community energy strategies to support industry transition

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Focus on community energy strategies to support industry transition

Western Power Distribution (WPD) has recently published its Net Zero Communities Strategy in a plan to provide stronger support for local energy markets. Over the last few years, the DNO has continued to have a strong focus on supporting community energy projects including the SoLa Bristol project and the Cornwall Local Energy Market managed by Centrica.
WPD announced its vision to ensure that both community and local energy represent a strong and resilient segment of the energy industry. WPD hope that the new strategy, delivered in coordination with Regen will strengthen the impact of community energy businesses within its service area, generate additional support and continued engagement.
Alison Sleightholm, the resources and external affairs director at WPD explains that the existing playing field is not level, meaning WPD needs to be capable of providing further support towards communities working with local energy plans.

By September this year, WPD intends to start carbon reporting on the range of services it purchases and assess methods of understanding low carbon services in its procurement processes, beginning with flexibility services. WPD is also intending to create a clear statement on the connection between net-zero and local communities within its RII0-ED2 business plan, liaising with communities on the statement details. By the end of 2020, WPD intends to deliver guidance on how it can utilise the investment to ensure its network doesn’t restrict its wider plans in delivering local energy plans. The strategy incorporates a number of plans including steps to enhance the connections processes and collaborating with community energy organisations on preparing innovation projects. The strategy intends to announce a dedicated Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) funding call later this year specifically for community energy groups.
Data was also emphasised as an important element of the strategy plan, with WPD announcing a commitment to delivering a data openness assessment. The plan also intends to ensure local substation data is available through the delivery of its OpenLV project.
WPD provides detailed plans on how to effectively support community energy organisations tackle fuel poverty as well as steps to continue engaging with businesses and communicating with communities and other stakeholders on funding allocations and priorities. Sleightholm highlights that the energy transition cannot be focused on a top-down approach because distributed renewable energy generation is local. Sleightholm explains that in order to achieve smart energy and flexible energy system requires everyone in homes and businesses to be capable of contributing.

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