The year 2011-12 saw three main areas of change which greatly impacted on NEA’s work:
- The Westminster Government’s proposals to end Exchequer-funded grant aid through Warm Front and replace it with new obligations on energy suppliers in the form of the Energy Company Obligation and a market-based Green Deal finance and delivery mechanism.
- The plans to transform the electricity market and secure investment in new infrastructure required to decarbonise electricity generation.
- The reviews of fuel poverty by Westminster and the devolved administrations which propose new ways of defining, measuring and prioritising action of fuel poverty.
NEA and other agencies together managed to convince the Government to increase funding for fuel poverty programmes by £190 million to assist some of the most deprived and financially disadvantaged communities in Great Britain.
Professor John Hills’ independent review of fuel poverty in England which commenced the previous year dominated much of NEA’s thinking and we engaged fully and constructively with the review team throughout.
The termination of the Warm Front scheme due in 2013 meant that for the first time in more than 30 years there would be no Government-funded programme to improve domestic heating and insulation standards in England. It was therefore absolutely crucial that NEA should be able to influence the shape and scope of the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation to ensure proportionate support for vulnerable and financially disadvantaged households.
NEA provided in-depth consultation responses and briefing papers and delivered the Warm Homes Campaign, Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, provided the Secretariat for the All-Party Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency Group, and supported the End Fuel Poverty Coalition and Energy Bill Revolution all aimed at reinforcing these messages. We highlighted all of our key asks in our media work and underpinned it with our programmes of events, seminars, conferences and forums as well as running the Community Footprint Award and the Heat Heroes schemed of recognition.
The Calor FREE programme focused on NEA providing mentoring support to Rural Community Councils (RCCs), developing capacity and skills within RCCs and local networks, contributing to policy development in relation to the needs of rural off-gas communities, and the provision of focused policy briefings and information resources.
The role of air-source heat pumps as an effective technology to tackle fuel poverty was explored with a further year of evaluations of installations – this year funded by National Grid Affordable Warmth Solutions. Ecodan, NIBE and Daikin also supported NEA to undertake a project documenting barriers in the way heat pumps are designed, installed and used through a series of public facing events with local authorities and housing associations. This resulted in raising awareness of heat pumps as an effective solution to affordable heating homes.
During 2011-2012 NEA’s Training Team responded to partners’ needs by developing new energy advice courses at Level I as well as the Green Deal Advisor course at Level Ill. Other new courses included Energy Efficiency in the Home Level II and Delivering Energy Efficiency Projects Level IV.
NEA’s Training and Education Officer continued with the successful schools projects, developing a bespoke range of activities and drama scenarios to help increase children’s awareness of energy efficiency and the importance of not wasting energy.
We led and participated in a number of projects and research initiatives in partnership with Government, industry and academia. This included starting the 3-year Customer-led Network Revolution in partnership with Northern Powergrid, Durham University, ea technology and British Gas under the auspices of Ofgem; participating in the Age Action Alliance DECC-funded research programme; Promoting Landlord Responsibilities through information sessions to help raise standards in the private rented sector; and Community Energy Fit, NEA’s largest energy champion project. Delivered in partnership with E.ON and local agencies in its various localities, the project aimed to reduce levels of fuel poverty.
In Wales and Northern Ireland, work continued to support all four aims via inclusion in the Fuel Poverty Coalition in both countries. NEA Cymru ran their own annual conference, supported the Welsh government through their work programme and trained community groups and frontline advisers. In Northern Ireland events were held to showcase the coalition in partnership with the Consumer Council and two major projects ran throughout the year: the Affordable Warmth Programme and Northern Exposure.