Regen has urged the government to introduce a statutory duty on local authorities to help meet the 2050 net zero target as well as providing the necessary funding, resourcing and reporting to back it up.

In a new report sponsored by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), the not-for-profit energy adviser said the government should also establish a formal governance role for local authorities in the delivery of key infrastructure, including by delegating powers from the regulator to guide network investment.

It said the government should issue funding and guidance for local authorities to develop local energy plans and allow network operators to align their investments. This is similar to one of the suggestions made by Ofgem in its consultation on the methodology for the RIIO ED2 price control published this morning (30 July).

The report, part of Regen’s ‘Decade to Make a Difference’ series, said the net zero target should be woven through all national policy and guidance for local authorities. Those at the front of the pack should be incentivised to share knowledge and experience with others, for example, through national competitions. Guidance should be issued to help local authorities support community energy projects by setting up power purchase agreements.

The Future Homes Standard should be made compliant with the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, whilst local authorities should be allowed to adopt standards that are more ambitious than the national policy. They should also be given control over energy efficiency retrofit funding, including the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Environmental levies on electricity bills should be transformed into a carbon tax on all energy consumption to remove the current disparity between gas and electricity.

“Climate change is an international problem, that requires local solutions,” commented SSEN head of future network Stuart Reid. “It is imperative that we turn ambition, into pragmatic and deliverable action, ensuring no communities are left behind in the transition to net zero.”

He said: “By collaborating to clearly set out local energy needs, investments can be better targeted to keep costs down, whilst helping to accelerate the transition to net zero. Fairness must be embedded in this shift, with access to opportunities shared and costs distributed equitably.”