Policy updates

New £150 million Warm Homes Fund announced

National Grid and Community Interest Company Affordable Warmth Solutions have recently announced a new £150 million Warm Homes Fund to help make households in Great Britain warmer, healthier and cheaper to heat. The Warm Homes Fund will be run over three years and will provide capital funding for the installation of affordable heating solutions in fuel poor households who do not use mains gas as their primary heating fuel. It has been established by National Grid to help supplement traditional funding streams and is open to bids from local authorities, housing associations and their partners in England, Wales and Scotland. It is broadly split in to three categories focusing on urban, rural and health-related solutions. Affordable Warmth Solutions are asking eligible applicants to register interest in the scheme by 31 July 2017 at whf@ngrid-aws.org.uk. This is the first bidding round and further bidding rounds will be announced.

For more information on the fund visit the Affordable Warmth Solutions website.

NEA re-appointed secretariat for the APPG for Fuel Poverty & Energy Efficiency

On 18 July the APPG for Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency held its Extraordinary General Meeting in Parliament to reconstitute the group following the general election. The APPG is a coalition of cross-party MPs, industry and non-profit stakeholders committed to maintain awareness in Parliament of fuel poverty issues with an emphasis on improved domestic energy efficiency. Members noted strong support for more ambitious action on fuel poverty within the recent respective manifestos and the cross-party consensus on the need for greater investment to improve domestic energy efficiency levels. MPs noted there is a key role for FPEEG to build on this momentum in Parliament and discussed the work programme of the group this coming year. Further information will be provided to APG members after summer recess however key topics include how Brexit could impact on fuel poverty and energy efficiency policy, continuing to develop the case for energy efficiency to be a key part of our energy infrastructure and exploring the links between fuel poverty and mental and physical health to ensure current and future schemes reach those in most need.

For more information on FPEEG please contact ben.sayah@nea.org.uk or visit the FPEEG website.

Ofgem to lead on developing further protections for vulnerable consumers

On 3 July Ofgem said that it has been asked by the UK government to consider what additional protections for vulnerable consumers should be introduced this Parliament. Speaking to the BBC, Dermott Nolan commented that one option being considered matches NEA’s proposal to extend the existing price protection for prepayment meters customers to other low-income and vulnerable households as a priority. NEA was also invited to a summit with other consumer groups on 17 July and are now working collaboratively with Ofgem and suppliers on the details of a new safeguard cap for vulnerable consumers. This could result in helping to reduce the acute stress and worry of unexpected future price increases for over 2.5 million more customers across GB.

NEA also believes Ofgem should consider using the overlap between the Priority Services Register and a supplier’s knowledge about those on a debt repayment plan to support low-income households that are not on means-tested benefits. This could result in customers that have fallen into difficulties paying for this essential service being protected whilst they work to pay off arrears without worrying about future price increases pushing them back into debt. Suppliers could also be encouraged to offer the cap to other vulnerable customers on a voluntary basis.

For more information about our work in this area please contact peter.smith@nea.org.uk.

Regional seminar series

From 7 to 27 June NEA held a series of five regional seminars entitled “Joining up delivery for warm, healthy and safe homes” in London, Exeter, Newcastle, Manchester and Birmingham. The programme included an NEA policy update on the current policy landscape. Ofgem also provided overviews of existing energy policies and initiatives and their representatives and those from BEIS sat in on the roundtable discussions on current delivery of energy efficiency and future policy development for the longer–term ECO scheme post 2018. In addition, the seminars covered the role of the gas distribution networks with representatives from Cadent, Northern Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities and an overview of NEA’s carbon monoxide gas safety research findings. A summary of the ECO feedback sessions has been developed. For a summary of the sessions please contact peter.smith@nea.org.uk. In addition, NEA will be requesting further feedback from supporters in the coming months to support BEIS develop the upcoming consultation on the longer-term scheme.

New funding for battery storage announced

On the 24 July, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published its Smart, Flexible Energy System report claiming the implementation of the proposed changes to the energy system will save energy consumers between £17bn to £40bn by 2050. Plans include allowing energy managers to trade “negawatts” and removing tariffs for energy storage systems owners when they import electricity into their home or export it back to the grid. BEIS also announced the first phase of a £246m investment in battery technology, to ensure the UK “builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.”

For more information visit the Gov.UK website.

You can download NEA’s response to BEIS and Ofgem’s call for evidence on A smart, flexible energy system” here.

Published on 26-07-2017
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