A report by a Green Party peer has outlined how renewable energy can be used to boost public finances.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb said newly-elected local mayors would have the power to use more solar and wind power, cutting public sector energy bills.

She said: “Mayors have a unique opportunity to achieve energy independence for their regions, generating most or all of their energy needs from locally-based renewable energy.

“The opportunities are abundant, from small solar panel installations on schools to utility-scale wind and solar farms.

“Energy independence will reduce carbon emissions and improve their finances.”

Improve their finances

Her five point plan called on mayors to:

  • establish a local energy company, similar to those in Bristol and Nottingham, to create revenue in the region before more budget cuts take effect;
  • formulate an energy action plan and ensure it can be delivered within agreed budgets, taking opportunities to create revenue sources and strengthen the business rates base;
  • diversify local energy sales and increase accessibility to clean energy through the introduction of local or online renewable energy marketplaces, similar to Cornwall’s Pilco trial programme;
  • develop programmes to take advantage of government funds such as the £300 million district heating fund, to establish the combined authority area as a “national and global leader” in innovative low-carbon research and business;
  • and divest local government pension funds and instead invest in local energy projects, also levering in investment from local people as with the Swindon solar bonds scheme.

> Download the report