Corbyn pledges to create 200 local energy companies

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to use new laws and the public purse to promote the creation of more than 200 local energy companies.

He pledged to create 1,000 community energy co-operatives and give them the legal right to directly sell energy to the people they serve.

Outlining his new ‘energy and environment manifesto’ in the Guardian, he slammed Britain’s energy market as not just “expensive, inefficient and polluting” but “above all, undemocratic”. He said the new package of policies would “pioneer a democratic, community-led system of energy supply”.

If voted into office, the Labour leader promised to build 1 million carbon neutral homes, half of them council houses. A national home insulation programme would be created to bring four million homes up to the energy efficiency standards B or C, and all rented housing would be forced to meet the same standards. Vulnerable customers would be given help paying their bills.

Corbyn committed his government to generating 65 per cent of the UK’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and vowed to get rid of all coal-fired power stations by the early 2020s – slightly ahead of the current government’s pledged phase-out. There would be an outright ban on fracking.

A £500 billion national investment programme, linked to a National Investment Bank and a network of regional development banks, would ensure new green jobs are created “where they are most needed – in coastal towns and areas with high unemployment”.

“All of these measures will create secure, skilled employment for hundreds of thousands of people,” added Corbyn. “As part of our transition to a low-carbon economy, we estimate that we will create 316,000 jobs in wind, solar and wave power.”

Commenting on the manifesto, national secretary for energy at the GMB union Justin Bowden said: “Everyone gets how – over time – renewable energy sources have an important role to play in a sensibly conceived mixed energy policy.

“However, wishful thinking doesn’t generate the power we need to heat homes, keep the lights on and the economy functioning; this means that until there are technological breakthroughs in carbon capture or solar storage then gas and nuclear power are the only reliable, low-carbon shows in town for all those days when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.”

Bowden attacked proposed the ban on fracking as “naive and short-sighted”.

Corbyn also plans to restore the Department of Energy and Climate Change, after it was merged with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in July, the BBC has reported.