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Blog - Empowering our Communities

27/02/2024

Blog by Jillian Violaris, SP Energy Networks - Partnerships and Funding Manager 

Jillian Violaris

I’m pleased to share the next in the series of our blogs linked to the delivery of our RIIO-T3 Business Plan. In this blog, I discuss how we support our communities in realising their low carbon ambitions, ensuring no one is left behind on the journey to Net Zero. If you’re looking for a short summary of this blog, click here for my 3 key points.

 

 

Introduction

As a transmission and distribution network operator, we play a key role in enabling the transition to a cleaner, greener future - helping the Government reach its Net Zero target. 

Little Kerse Green Economy Fund - Solar panelsWe’re dedicated to providing the critical infrastructure to support the transition to Net Zero whilst ensuring that no one is left behind.  We have a great opportunity through our next Transmission Business Plan, known as our ‘RIIO-T3 Business Plan’ to ensure the communities we serve are part of this journey.  

This plan will set out proposed investment in the transmission network for the 5 years between 2026 to 2031. It will increase the security of energy supply, help to protect consumers from the dangers of climate change, generate investment that delivers growth and green jobs. 

Read our introductory RIIO-T3 blog for more information on what it all means.

  

Community Benefit Funding 

Our RIIO-T3 Business Plan will include the introduction of ‘Community Benefit Funding’. So, what does this mean?  

Well, last year UK Government’s independent Electricity Networks Commissioner, Nick Winser, published a series of independent recommendations on how to accelerate the deployment of electricity transmission infrastructure.  

The report contained recommendations that communities impacted by new Transmission infrastructure, such as overhead lines and substations, are offered benefits. Hence the name ‘Community Benefits’.  

We have started working on our proposals for future Community Benefits Funding which will be a critical element of our RIIO-T3 Business Plan.  

It is anticipated that our proposed Community Benefit Funding will focus on the following principles:  

  • Targeting communities that will be impacted by transmission works. 
  • Creating value and unlocking socio-economic benefits; enabling a Just Transition and leaving a positive lasting legacy. 
  • Supporting a wide range of community organisations. 
  • Targeted stakeholder engagement. 
  • Understanding local priorities. 
  • Tailored solutions to address community’s needs. 
  • Working in partnership with stakeholders and supply chain. 
  • Creating measurable value for communities (for example creating jobs and installations to save carbon).  

 

“Change at a local level can be enabled by those in positions of greater resource and influence. We recognise that we must not only look at what drives us as a network business, we must also support our communities and societies to build their knowledge, then recognise and realise their green ambitions.”
SP Energy Networks,
Just Transition Strategy, March 2023.

 

Our successful track record 

In Scotland, how we travel and heat our homes are the two biggest producers of harmful emissions responsible for climate change. So, making changes to the way we travel and heat our homes could make a big difference to our environment, reducing harmful pollutants and providing cleaner air. Net Zero means we need to decarbonise buildings, electrify transport and rethink how we power and heat our homes. 

We have a strong track record of delivering community funding programmes which support our communities in realising their own low carbon ambitions, as well as enabling a range of other positive benefits including job creation, supply chain opportunities and knowledge sharing within stakeholder and community organisations.  We believe this sets a strong precedent for any future funds proposed to be realised through our RIIO-T3 Business Plan.

Transmission Net Zero Fund 

Net Zero Fund - Net Zero DayOur £5million Transmission Net Zero Fund was launched in 2022 through our RIIO-T2 Business Plan. This fund helps communities in their decarbonisation plans and developing robust routes to achieving Net Zero. The fund supports projects that deliver social, environmental and economic benefits within local communities to deliver a just transition for all. Funding is helping communities accelerate their plans so that they’re well on their way to achieving their Net Zero ambitions by 2030 (#FutureFor30).  

Since launching the fund, we have delivered our general Net Zero and tailored community workshops to enable communities to explore and develop suitable solutions to meet their local decarbonisation challenges. We have also hosted a Net Zero Day at Dumfries and Galloway college to inspire the next generation of green experts and bring to life what a Net Zero future might be like.

Read more about our recent announcement of the first round of projects awarded grants totalling £1million, supporting vulnerable communities across Scotland to reach Net Zero. 

Another example of successful community funds we have delivered include our Green Economy Fund.   

Green Economy Fund (GEF) 

Green Economy Fund - 100% electric busFrom 2018 to 2021, our award-winning £20million Green Economy Fund (GEF) allowed us to invest in the communities that we serve. The fund supported a diverse mix of projects across Scotland – all with one thing in common: they support Scotland’s green ambitions. Just some of the significant highlights include:  

  • Funding 35 projects to support the decarbonisation of transport and heat 
  • Reducing carbon output by 637 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) – that’s around the weight of three blue whales! 🐳🐳🐳 
  • Creating 58 jobs across Scotland 
  • Hosting 147 stakeholder training sessions 

Read the GEF final report to find out about the other highlights and projects.

  

Stakeholder Engagement 

Stakeholders are key to the development of our RIIO-T3 Business Plan and their valuable input will allow us to develop our Community Benefits proposal in line with our communities expectations and needs. We want to build our plans absolutely aligned to our stakeholder feedback and ensure that it is fit for purpose and really delivers for our communities.  

There will be engagement opportunities coming up this year, giving you the chance to shape our proposals. Complete this online form to Register as a Stakeholder, ensuring you tick ‘Community Funding’ and any other areas of interest. 

Members of our Independent Net Zero Advisory Council (INZAC) will also be supporting the development of our Business Plan, scrutinising both the technical plans as well as ensuring any emerging customer issues are fully considered. The INZAC bring the voice of customers and stakeholders into the heart of our business. 

Stay up to date via our dedicated RIIO-T3 page which will be updated regularly with our progress and opportunities for engagement.  If you have any enquiries about our RIIO-T3 Business Plan, please email us on riio-t3pmo@spenergynetworks.co.uk


My top 3 takeaways from this blog are: 

  • We are developing our RIIO-T3 Business Plan which will be published in December 2024. This will include our proposals on Community Benefits Funding.  
  • You can be part of shaping our proposals – Register as a Stakeholder (ensure you tick 'Community Funding’ and any other areas of interest)  
  • We have started working on our proposals for future Community Benefits Funding which will be a critical element of our RIIO-T3 Business Plan.  

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