Councils to be given green light to sell electricity

A ban on councils selling green electricity into the national grid is to be overturned, UK climate change secretary Chris Huhne said today as the carbon footprint of every local council in England was published.

Huhne wants local councils to be allowed to sell electricity they produce from renewables to the national electricity grid.

’It’s ridiculous that the 1976 Local Government Act prevents councils from selling electricity from local wind turbines, or from anaerobic digestion,’ he said.

’I want to see this repealed and by the end of the year I hope local authorities will be able to sell electricity from renewables – generating revenue to help local services and keep council tax down.’

The carbon footprint of every local council in England was also published today for the first time. The new figures calculate the CO2 produced by councils in powering and heating their buildings, such as libraries, schools and leisure centres, as well as emissions from business travel, fleet vehicles and even refuse trucks.

Huhne said: ’By calculating their own emissions and the estimated costs of energy use, local councils will be able to identify how to save emissions and save money. These new statistics should put energy wastage and energy efficiency at the forefront of the minds of councillors and council officials.’

The emissions data was collected from local authorities across England for the 2008/2009 financial year. It shows that:

  • East Cambridgeshire (574 tonnes), East Northamptonshire (606 tonnes), Broadland (806 tonnes), Isles of Scilly (854 tonnes) and West Somerset (881 tonnes) local authorities were the lowest emitters.
  • Birmingham (177,360 tonnes) Hertfordshire (168,570 tonnes), Lancashire (157,890 tonnes), Leeds (136,900 tonnes) and Hampshire (133,950 tonnes) local authorities were the highest emitters.

In total, local authorities were responsible for 8.3m tonnes of CO2, which is about 1.6 per cent of the UK total net CO2 emissions for calendar year 2008 (532.8 MtCO2).

The data also shows how much electricity local authorities have generated themselves, with more than 600,000KWh generated from on-site wind or solar power and 33,800,000kWh from on-site biomass.