National Energy Action recently announced that they will be running a £26.2 million fund for fuel poverty action over the coming three years. This is great news, especially at a time when funding from energy suppliers through ECO has virtually disappeared and as Green Deal (which was not designed for the fuel poor) falters.
So where has the money come from? Well, technically, it should have been spent already. Two energy companies – Drax and Intergen – failed to meet their obligations under the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), a previous energy supplier obligation scheme. So the penalty for failing to deliver on energy efficiency is to pay for energy efficiency – I do like the closure of that, rather than the money just disappearing into the exchequer.
I am curious to know how much it would have cost Drax and Intergen to meet their obligations under CESP and whether the £26.2 million is actually quite punitive…
That said, I’m delighted that NEA have been able to agree that they will manage the fines / money. So far, we know that there will be three elements to their work: a Warm Zones fund (£13 million) which will presumably operate on a similar basis to other area-based schemes (including, ironically, CESP); a Technical Innovation Fund; and a Warm and Healthy Homes Fund.
The Warm and Healthy Homes Fund sounds as though it will be a Warm Homes, Healthy People type programme – bringing together health and social care professionals, public health and the energy efficiency agenda to provide not just energy efficiency but warmth packs, behavioural advice and perhaps tariff advice to residents with health vulnerabilities.
The Technical Innovation Fund sounds interesting too – my hope is that it explores not just product / material innovation (eg, new heating controls, thinner insulation materials) but also process innovation, to help the supply chain and its partners to grapple with some of the logistical challenges that persist in energy efficiency and retrofit. Innovations to help with scheduling, contractor / client communication and minimising disruption would all be welcomed, not just for those in fuel poverty but across the general population.
If you want to find out more about the NEA “Redressing the Balance” funding, you can sign up for email updates by sending your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Image sourced from Greenpeace