Ynni Cymru – for renewable cooperative owned energy in Wales

People’s Assembly Wales – Cynulliad y Werin, Cymru

https://pawalescymru.blogspot.com/2022/04/ynni-cymru-for-renewable-cooperative.html

Introduction
As the People’s Assembly Wales we support the argument that a major investment in renewable energy generation, use and building insulation, would not only be a massive boost to green jobs, a major contribution to net zero carbon but would, if cooperatively owned, be a direct challenge to the exploitation and profiteering of the international energy companies.

The Cooperation Agreement aim of Ynni Cymru producing through renewable community owned generation of adding 100MW to the current 1GW target is negligible in impact compared to 12,000MW total capacity in Wales.

The strategic aim needs to be much more ambitious, aiming perhaps for 6GW renewable community owned generation by 2030.

Community ownership has to mean something, and the investment has to be generated.

At the current time as Community Energy Wales indicates there are various models of what community ownership means, many are not really a model of ‘public ownership’ as envisaged in the Cooperation Agreement. The Cooperation Agreement refers to taking advice about how to implement this part of the agreement and there is a real danger that we end up with a structure that is private/public partnership or is managed and run like any other business.

We strongly support a cooperative structure as outlined in this discussion paper. Local cooperative based on the 22 local council areas in Wales owned and governed by a combination of council, worker and community members would form the basis which would then own in turn Ynni Cymru. Such a structure would ‘anchor’ the investment in each area, protecting from private buyouts, ensuring that all income produced would be used for re-investment or price control and as has been seen with cooperative research, such an arrangement has a longer chance of survival. With local council and Welsh Government support it would help provide the predictability of the long term infrastructure investment that will be required.

This would truly be ‘publicly owned’.

If, as is the experience of current community owned renewable projects that the whole cycle of energy needs to be taken account of – generation, use and insulation – then this should be included into the objectives of the cooperatives.

It could also be the basis of Unnos the National Construction Company envisaged in the Cooperation Agreement working in parallel as a cooperative and sharing projects. We note that the Cooperation Agreement does not clearly commit Unnos to being a publicly owned company and this is now an opportunity to make this a clear commitment.

There have been several recent reports covering this area – see links at the end.

A possible cooperative structure and investment:

Each of the 22 local authorities in Wales to initiate their own renewable energy cooperatives and to start developing capacity from the best use of locally available renewable energy sources as well as addressing issues of energy use and insulation.

Each ‘bach-Ynni’ is owned by a free standing renewable energy cooperative governed by an elected third EG/council representatives; third workers and trade unions; third residents.

The Ynni Cymru to be an overarching free standing renewable cooperative governed by a board composed of representatives of the thirds but with the executive officers being directly elected by Welsh electors.

Funding

All funding to be raised within Wales and to only be open to Welsh institutions and residents.

The aim would be to ensure that maintaining and expanding the generating capacity would be after an initial start-up period of say six years, to be self-funded from income.

Initial capital funding can come from the capital funds of the WG and local authorities as well as the collective use of their borrowing powers. It would provide an alternative source of investment if councils could be persuaded to ensure that their pension funds divest from companies extracting coal, oil and gas and other non-renewable sources.

A direct investment fund using the mutual model such as a building society, to also provide capital sourced in Wales. It would provide a source of long-term saving with the backing of the WG and councils as well as mobilising smaller savings and possibly funds from unions and pension funds.

Existing renewable capacity that is not publicly or community owned to be purchased when succession becomes an issue – thus taking existing capacity into Ynni Cymru ownership.

Taking forward the discussion

Please respond to the discussion in the comment section of this post or on our People’s Asembly Wales Facebook page or send an email to peoplesassemblywales0@gmail.com

Useful recent links.

https://gov.wales/co-operation-agreement-full-policy-programme-html

https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2021-12/2022-2023-draft-budget-narrative.pdf.pdf

https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/6995/documents/72868/default/

https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2021-01/energy-generation-in-wales-2019.pdf

http://www.communityenergywales.org.uk/en/support/the-shared-ownership-option

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