Outer Hebrides propose their own Local Electricity Bill

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COUNCIL for Outer Hebrides in Scotland is proposing their own Local Electricity Bill which, according to the council, has ‘the potential to transform the UK’s electricity market’.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, based in the Isle of Lewis, has sought support for a proposed Local Electricity Bill which would make Local Authorities and Community Generators to become licensed Electricity Suppliers more easily.

The Bill, which has cross Party support, instructs Ofgem to issue simplified Local Supply Licenses at a cost proportionate to the scale of the local supply operation.

At present, prospective local electricity suppliers seeking to obtain a Supply License from Ofgem face ‘prohibitive costs and a web of regulations’.

A report is going before the Comhairle’s next Sustainable Development Committee recommending that the Comhairle support the principles of the Local Electricity Bill.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Chairman Donald Crichton said: “The principles of this new Bill align closely with the Comhairle’s ambitions in the area of electricity generation and supply.

“Shared Community Ownership in Stornoway and Uisenis Wind Farms and the strong portfolio of community-owned generation already in place across the islands will provide sufficient generation to supply all island consumers in a closed island network.

“Since 2015, the Comhairle, in consultation with the Distribution System Operator and Ofgem, has been developing a model for a parallel island network which will allow all island electricity consumption to be supplied directly by on-island generation without the need for UK-wide electricity shipping charges, shareholder dividend for commercial energy supply companies and the punitive North of Scotland Locational Surcharge.

“In 2016, the Comhairle established ‘Hebrides Energy’, an arms-length Community Interest Company which, once Stornoway and Uisenis Wind Farms are built, will become a licensed Local Supply Company, supplying low cost green electricity directly to island homes and businesses.

“This Bill will simplify the process and reduce the costs faced by local supply companies. In the same way, our existing Community Generators will be enabled to become electricity suppliers in their own right and we urge them to take advantage of this opportunity”.

The matter will be discussed in the council’s Sustainable Development Committee’s meeting on 4 December.