Bedford Borough Council has announced that from 1 April 2021, all council-owned and operated buildings and street lighting will run on ‘100% green renewable electricity’.
Taking into account energy efficiencies, the change is expected to cost the council less than 1% more in energy bills.
Liberal Democrat Mayor, Dave Hodgson, said it showed the council ‘taking the lead and proactively working to provide a better future and a cleaner environment for both within the local area and across the globe.’
Green Party councillor Lucy Bywater cautiously welcomed the change: “I hope many will follow the council’s example.
“To have a positive impact with our personal decisions, those of us buying green energy really need to buy from a supplier like Ecotricity or Good Energy that commits to increasing the supply of genuinely renewable energy.
“Otherwise, all we are doing is changing the shape of the slices of a cake made with the same ingredients.”
A borough council spokesperson confirmed to the Bedford Independent that the 100% clean, renewable electricity was being obtained by switching to “a carbon neutral, Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) backed energy supply through our supplier, Npower.”
The energy will be from ‘100% renewable energy sources’, such as wind and solar, and “does not include nuclear.”
The spokesperson added, however, that the council’s energy use is “from the national grid ‘mix’ and while we do not have control of this, our supplier’s REGO-backed business energy meets carbon reporting requirements and as such is reportable as zero-carbon emissions.
“This will be reported separately by the Bedford Borough Council annual greenhouse gas report to show full transparency.”
Since 2010, the council has already reduced its carbon emissions by over 60%. The council also declared a climate emergency in March 2019 and has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Fellow Green Cllr Ben Foley criticised the council for focusing only on its own emissions, saying: “By only paying attention to its own emissions, the Council pretends it has no impact on the other 98% of emissions within the borough.
“In fact, it owns ‘distribution depots’ that are placed close to the A421 so that they are easy for lorries to access.
“It doesn’t insist on the highest possible standards as part of the planning of new buildings. When we are not in lockdown, it promotes driving into the town centre.
“Until the council adopts policies that are consistent with the whole economy of the Borough hitting net zero by 2030, its efforts with its own 2% of emissions will be dwarfed by the impacts of its other policies.”
Cllr Foley also stated he hoped the electricity didn’t come from nuclear power, prior to the Bedford Independent confirming that nuclear energy was off the table.
Bedford Borough Council will be far from the first council to source 100% clean renewable electricity.
According to Energy Live News, in February 2019 Warrington Borough Council became the first UK local authority to generate all its electricity needs from renewable sources.
Southampton, Hackney, Blackpool and Portsmouth are other UK local authorities who have already reached similar 100% renewable electricity landmarks, two of which via the REGO mechanism.
The REGO scheme was originally developed to meet EU requirements, but will be maintained after the Brexit transition period.