* Report: Collective Power. Changing the way we consume energy. By Robbie Erbmann, Hugh Goulbourne & Piya Malik. the co-operative party, May 2009.
"Rising and volatile energy costs have been a major source of difficulty for many households and small to medium sized businesses. Dwindling oil and gas supplies mean that the UK is increasingly reliant on foreign energy imports. And then there is the problem of climate change. We all know that the long-term future of our planet is at stake, and that if we do not control future levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases then we are heading for a global climate catastrophe.
While there is an important role for Government in waging the energy revolution, its capacity to do so on its own is limited. As Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has stated, protecting the future of our planet ‘requires actions by individuals, but nobody believes that a wind turbine on your roof alone is going to solve the climate crisis on its own. These things are not worth doing unless everybody does them, so it requires us to come together collectively and act.’
What has been missing up until now has been the question of ‘how?’ What sort of structure can provide a vehicle through which communities up and down the country can both reduce and meet their energy needs? How can we ensure that all people, not just the few, will be able to share in the gains of the new energy infrastructure that is created?
The answer is that we need consumer ownership. Through collectively pooling their purchasing power, residents, local businesses and public sector organisations can all come together to save money and help tackle the threat of climate change. Banding together in this way, energy co-operatives are able to purchase their own energy on the wholesale markets and negotiate affordable deals for state of the art smart metering technology. This should allow households to realise savings of 10% - 20% on average.
While these organisations may begin as a practical expression of self-help, they have the capacity to revolutionise the way in which we purchase and produce energy. Once established, the co-operative forms a framework through which ordinary people can build and own an infrastructure that will reduce their long-term energy costs and manage the reduction of their carbon emissions.
The Government’s role in this is crucial. While state action cannot create social movements, it can create the conditions under which they can thrive. The opportunity exists to create a new social movement that can ensure that we are all able to make the change to the low-carbon lifestyle. There has never been a better time to ensure that this opportunity is brought into reality."