I’ve got the power


I noticed a little piece of legislation the other day which really got my mind buzzing.  Actually, it’s less a piece of legislation, more an amendment to old legislation from a bygone era.

It’s around the wonder that is power generation, in the form of electricity rather than quangos.  In previous years, to protect the emergence of new power companies it was ruled that local authorities could not generate and sell electricity to the National Grid.  When coal or nuclear power were the only real generating options this seemed to be fine, protecting an industry from the might of government interference.

However, in these greener days, the advent of solar, wind and even wave power has forced things to change, and a press release from Chris Huhne has signalled just such a change.  In a nutshell, local authorities can now generate electricity using green methods and then make money by selling whatever they don’t use back to the National Grid.

When I read this I got very excited.  Crunching some numbers, apparently solar panels on the Town Hall could generate £10k per year in profits, whilst a wind turbine could make 50 times this.  How many borderline services would that save?  How many meals on wheels, or youth centres, or Chief Exec salaries?

In most London authorities there wouldn’t even be the perennial problem with wind turbines; complaints.  Londoners are used to new additions to the skyline, and besides they have plenty of other things to complain about, such as pigeons on their verandas.

There might be a bit of cost to get this set up, but surely this is a license to print money?  Energy costs would disappear from the yearly cost sheet and there would be unrestricted funds to play with, which sooner rather than later would offset the initial costs of installing the turbines.  All of this is not even considering the environmental benefits and the additional bonus towards CO2 target reductions.

For some reason no-one around me seemed to be anywhere near as excited as I am about this.  In fact, apathetic would be the best way of describing it.  Am I missing some problem with this, some fly in the ointment?

In fact, if we could find some way of harnessing all of the hot air that comes out of the Town Hall we’d make millions…

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3 Comments on “I’ve got the power”

  1. richardprichard Says:

    The optimist in me suggests that people are mentally limbering up for the innovation and entreprenurial zing about to be unleased.

    See – even the town planners are mad for it…

    http://planningadvisor.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/invest-to-earn/

  2. localgov Says:

    I’ll take that dose of optimism and cherish it, as it’s an attitude avoided in the workplace as a general unspoken rule.

    Great post there by the way, it will be really interesting to see how planners take this on and take up the proactive approach when opportunities like this start to be presented.


  3. […] I don’t want this to come across as Pickle-bashing in particular, it was merely an indication of the mood I picked up on. It’s not that local government has given up, far from it in fact, just that the air of constructive conflict and tension had disappeared, to perhaps be replaced by an air of practicality and pragmatism. I saw and spoke with people doing some really exciting things, thinking bigger than ever before and talking about how they would actually get things done rather than necessarily who they needed to ask for permission. The session on income generation was particularly busy, standing room only being in action ten minutes before it was due to kick off and with at least 30 people or more subsequently turned away as the room was simply too full. I believe they were talking about the ability to make money by generating energy, which for some reason sounds familiar… […]


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