Friends of the Earth Community Power Report
WHAT IS COMMUNITY ENERGY
The term community energy is used in a variety of different contexts including electricity and heat generation, grid management and collective power purchasing. Community energy may describe a geographic community or a community of interest. As such it is useful to define community energy through common characteristics.
• Ordinary people or citizens are involved in running the project through community groups such as co-operatives or development trusts
• There is a co-operative, democratic or specifically non-corporate structure
• There are tangible local benefits to people living or working close to projects
• The profits go back to the community or are re-invested in other community energy schemes.
As community energy grows and develops as a concept, its benefits are better understood. In addition to helping achieve emissions reductions, it enables communities to harness local natural resources to build social capital, create local and regional employment opportunities, create revenue to address community development needs and combat fuel poverty.
Community ownership and participation in projects can also help generate support and acceptance of renewables more broadly. Furthermore, involvement in community projects helps stimulate citizen interest in other areas of energy such as energy conservation and demand side management.