The electricity supply chain is pretty complicated, and has many different sections. There's the generation (that's what we've done so far, installing and owning solar PV panels that put electricity into the grid), then there's the distribution (at a local or a national level), and then there's the selling to consumers (supplying). In the UK, the 'big six' energy companies do most of stage 1 and 3 (generating and supplying. National Grid does the national distribution or 'transmission', and in Bristol, Western Power Distribution does the local distribution, taking the electricity from the National Grid to people's homes. It's the Western Power Distribution grid that our 63kW of solar PV are plugged into.
In Berlin, the equivalent of Western Power Distribution is Vattenfall, a Swedish owned energy company. Their contract is soon coming up for renewal, and two community groups have got organised to try to bring the grid into community ownership. Berliner Energietisch are gathering pettition signatures to organise a referendum for the remunicipalisation Bürgeof the grid, and Bürgerenergie Berlin are trying to raise the money for a community buy-out of the grid.
Is this something we might think of in the UK? If so, how would it work? In Berlin, the plan is for the current employees of Vattenfall to continue running the grid, just under new ownership. This process had already happened when the grid was privatised in the first place, and the former public sector workers became employees of Vattenfall. What would we be able to achieve? Would it help us to promote renewables and phase out fossil fuels? Would it allow us to develop community smart grids?