THE BLOG

Energy for Londoners Can Make Our City Great Again

17/04/2016 20:04

London is the world's greatest city, and Londoners deserve an equivalent energy system. How we power our city, keep our homes warm, and keep the lights on, says a lot about how we live our lives. It should be clean, affordable and 21st century.

I want my daughters to grow up in a city that is cleaner and greener, in which people aren't dying because the air is so filthy. But I also want London to be at the cutting edge of new green technologies, generating the growth and jobs of the future. That's why, if I'm elected Mayor in May, I'll set up Energy for Londoners to lead on delivering the clean, green energy of the future.

Energy Bills
Almost every London household is paying more for electricity and gas than it should - London residents have the highest energy bills in the UK. The recent Competition and Markets Agency investigation estimated that large energy companies are overcharging the British public by £1.7 billion.

It is shocking that over a million Londoners live in fuel poverty. In a great city such as ours, people should not have to choose whether to heat their homes or buy food. Yet in boroughs like Newham, Waltham Forest, Harrow and Brent, more than one in ten are forced to make this choice every winter.

But this is not only about those in fuel poverty - none of us should be paying £200 - £300 pounds more for our energy than we need to, exacerbating the cost of living crisis. London deserves better.

Labour councils have been leading the way in developing pro-active policies that lower bills for households and business. Nottingham City Council launched the non-profit Robin Hood Energy in September 2015, and it has already saved hundreds of pounds for many customers since. A special tariff offers greater savings to Nottingham residents - average tariffs are now £78 cheaper than before it launched. In my manifesto I also commit to exploring whether we can bulk buy energy and sell it back to households. We will learn from Nottingham, and see what we can replicate in London.

More Jobs for Londoners

When the Tory Government slashed support for the low carbon energy sector, completely undermining the sector, I warned that this was a threat to over 2,000 Londoners' jobs and to our city's economy.

While clean energy is growing rapidly around the world, Tory policies have put us into a clean energy backwater and cut British businesses off from this growth. Renewable energy and the low carbon sector is one of the key future growth sectors for London's economy and deserves to be treated accordingly. My plan for Energy for Londoners ensures that London will invest in business growth and jobs in the clean energy sector, making our city once again a technological leader.

Energy for communities
Tory policies have put two thirds of the UK's planned community energy projects at threat of closure. We should be helping people take control of their power supply - and Energy for Londoners can do this by supporting communities who want to set up their own clean energy generation schemes.

Energy fit for the 21st century
Over the past eight years, the Tories managed to squander a fantastic green legacy in London. We've gone from being a global leader on environmental issues to a middle-ranking city at best.

Energy for Londoners can take London to the twenty first century and reduce London's carbon emissions. It will roll out schemes like the Bunhill Energy Centre that takes waste heat from the tube to warm homes in and around Old Street. It will produce a dedicated solar strategy to make use of London's roofs, public land and in particular TfL land and buildings to generate clean energy. We will ensure new developments have solar and low carbon designed in, and work with local authorities and housing associations to increase energy efficiency measures and renewable energy generation in social housing stock.

London's ambition doesn't have to stop there. Municipal owned, not for profit energy companies are doing innovative things the world over. The Danish capital Copenhagen has invested in a large-scale offshore wind farm providing the city with 40MW of power. Cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee are using renewal of the energy grid to install ultrafast internet. Residents of Sacramento, California, directly elect the board of directors of their municipal energy company.

Cheaper bills, 21st century renewable technology, more democratic accountability - all of these things and more could be possible in London. It's time to stop lagging behind while Londoners cope with cold homes. I'm doubly determined to make London once again a beacon to the world and a cleaner, greener city that offers affordable energy to its residents. And Energy for Londoners will take us there.

Sadiq Khan is Labour's Candidate for Mayor of London

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