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Let’s talk about community energy

Community energy is a small but growing sector which is a key part of our transition to a low carbon future.

The Government’s community energy strategy defines community energy as community projects or initiatives focused on the four strands of:

• reducing energy use;
• managing energy better;
• generating energy; or
• purchasing energy.

In the North West of England we estimate there are around 15 community energy groups with connect generation totalling about  20 projects deployed totalling nearly 6.5MW megawatts installed – that’s enough to power about 3000 homes every year.

Some great examples of community energy schemes include:
Greater Manchester Community Renewables who are installing solar panels on schools and using a community ownership model to reinvest the benefits into future schemes;
Oldham Community Power, a community initiative which has installed PV on local authority and community owned buildings and is planning more projects;
Stockport Hydro, a community owned renewable energy scheme on the river Goyt near Marple and one of their aims is to use surplus funds to support local community projects; and
• Saddleworth Hydro on Dovestones reservoir in Oldham, who also have the aim to invest money back into local educational and environmental projects.

These ‘community’ energy schemes have community ownership and benefits at their heart, whereas ‘local’ energy schemes may have different ownership models but the scheme will still have benefits for the local community. 

Good examples of local energy schemes are the heat network projects currently being developed in Greater Manchester.  Heat Network projects potentially have an interaction with the electricity network as many of them are combined heat and power (CHP) schemes.

This is an evolving sector, and as Greater Manchester’s power network operator, we at   Electricity North West want feedback on what community and local energy means to you.

We have started to expand our relationships with community energy schemes and would like to hear from any community or local energy initiatives that haven’t already been in touch. 

We are particularly interested in community and local energy because it connects and operates on our network. It is our responsibility to respond to new connection requests for distributed generation and there are resources on our website to support customers with their application.

Our main responsibility to is to maintain a reliable supply for everyone, while also offering new connections and coping with growing demand on the network as we all generate and use more electricity. 

We are also interesting in talking to community and local energy groups to understand what role they can play helping is to develop our plans for the future. 

At Electricity North West we are preparing for the future in a number of ways:

• striving to improve how we manage our network with new research, innovation and technology
• developing ‘smart grid’ technologies to enable us to intelligently manage our network and match supply with demand in the best way possible
• developing innovative new contracts to benefit our low carbon customers
• continually taking steps to reduce energy usage and encourage our customers to use electricity more efficiently.

We want to start a conversation...

To help us shape and develop our services and future plans we would like to talk to you if you’re involved in or have an interest in developing community and local energy. 

We would like to find out what community and local energy means to you, what your main priorities and issues are at the moment, how our existing service is supporting you and what we can do to develop it.

We want you to help inform our new Community and Local Energy Strategy. There are several ways you can get involved:

  • Attend one of our consultation events (details below)
  • Read and comment on our draft strategy which will be on our website (  from 15th December
  • Respond to a short survey (also on our website from 15th December)
  • Get in touch at
  • Join one of our interactive workshops to help inform and shape our Community and Local Energy Strategy.

Consultation events:


Discover more at: