Our LEDS journey 10 years on – what is the key to our success?
by RES | Jul 04, 2022 | Reading time: 3 min
It’s been nearly 10 years since we listened to feedback from our communities and created our unique Local Electricity Discount Scheme (LEDS), a scheme that offers properties closest to participating operational wind farms an annual discount on their electricity bill regardless of their energy supplier. Those eligible include private residences, local businesses and public buildings like schools, libraries and community halls.
There are now 20 participating operational wind farms across the UK offering LEDS, with over 4,000 homes benefiting from the discount in 2021 and £3m of payments made so far. With rising energy costs being a contributing factor to the cost of living crisis, we expect the uptake of eligible properties applying for the discount – currently around 75% – to rise quite significantly this year.
We’re committed to delivering genuine benefits to the communities that host our wind farms, it’s our way of giving back. Feedback told us that communities near both existing and potential development sites felt that offering cheaper electricity was the most practical and valuable benefit RES could offer.
The number of properties qualifying for each LEDS scheme, and the exact discount they receive, varies from site to site – reflecting each project’s location, as well as taking into account the size of the wind farm. The discount is typically paid for the operational life of the wind farm (approximately 25 years), or until such time as someone moves out of an eligible property. At this point, the annual discount will become available to the new electricity bill payer for the property.
How we process this from a governance perspective is what makes this scheme unique. We have seen other examples of schemes that offer discounted electricity as a local benefit, but often the governance is poor. At RES, we adopt a rigorous approach when it comes to GDPR and meet all the strict compliance requirements around storing personal data. Additionally, the LEDS payments are made directly to the electricity supplier of the household, ensuring the benefit is used for its intended purpose. We also provide vouchers to ensure residents on pre-payment meters can benefit too. This robust approach has allowed us to work with some of the biggest energy providers over the last decade and more recently we’ve been considering how our clients with global portfolios could implement this scheme.
RES has been focused on clean energy for four decades and sustainability lies at the core of our business activity. Our sustainability agenda is to power positive change by ensuring that our operations, products and services make a net positive contribution to society and the environment.
This sustainability agenda is more formally known as our Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy and LEDS plays a big part in how we report on assets across a variety of activities as part of our community outreach. For example, our work with communities on behalf of our clients ensures the opportunities presented by community funds are maximised. During a projects development we also play a proactive part in communities by participating, sponsoring, and generally supporting local activities. We have always been committed to engaging and supporting our communities, and in these challenging times it is now more important than ever. At a time of surging energy prices LEDS delivers direct and tangible benefits to local communities, while also supporting home grown, zero carbon electricity generation.
As an industry innovator for over 40 years, RES has delivered more than 23GW of renewable energy projects across the globe and supports an operational asset portfolio exceeding 9GW worldwide for a large client base. We are immensely proud that this results in avoided emissions of more than 23 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
It is an exciting time in the renewables market across the globe and for RES we are see increasing opportunities across our business and communities. The REPower EU plan sets a new renewable energy target of 45% by 2030. The British Energy Security Strategy established a clear trajectory for a mature renewables market and highlighted ways that blockers to delivery would be removed. Finally, in Australia we have seen the election of a new Prime Minster who has vowed to turn the country into a renewables ‘superpower’. We are working hard to ensure there is a strong and predictable framework in place to deliver the level of investment needed to meet this ambition.