UK-GBC Task Group Report: Legal Frameworks Sustainable Energy Infrastructure
This report explores the legal issues relating to the set up of sustainable energy infrastructure, specifically district heating schemes as this service is not currently regulated as with power. The report considers a wide range of general legal issues from the set up of the scheme through to consumer issues such as access to land, continuity of supply, and consumer repayment.
Currently there is a lack of guidance, and many groups involved in setting up district heating schemes find themselves spending time and fees researching the same issues which often makes the integration of sustainable energy solutions financially unviable. Typical groups include local authorities, developers, operators, landowners, occupiers and energy services companies (ESCOs) who are often involved in the installation, operation and maintenance of a scheme.
In the context of the Government’s Heat Strategy, this report is timely. It is clear that the size, scope and structure of these systems are continually evolving and with it, the legal structures that underlie them will also change. This report looks to identify the legal structures that are likely to form the basis of future typical schemes. The report sets out three different scheme types which are seen as relevant and adaptable to whatever commercial and financial framework is chosen for a particular project and therefore aims to support scheme developers in finding the most workable legal structure for their project. It also looks at the mainstream functions and role of ESCOs and MUSCOs. It is intended purely as a guide to issues that should be considered when developing the legal agreements for a community energy solution.
The Task Group had initially planned to set out standardised legal arrangements for wider community scale infrastructure projects (i.e. beyond just energy). However, having explored the landscape which is presented in the interim report it was decided that the issues were too broad to focus on them all in detail. It should also be noted that this report does not provide guidance on commercial and financial structures for community energy schemes, or standardise a technical or political solution. These issues are currently being explored by government and industry groups to support the development of heat networks such as the CHPA , GLA and industry.