GOVERNMENT ministers are seeking views on ways communities can manage and generate their own energy.
The consultation comes ahead of the UK's first Community Energy Strategy, due to be published later this year.
The strategy will encourage community-owned renewables schemes where local people benefit from the power produced.
Ministers believe community energy projects can save people money on energy bills as well as helping to tackle fuel poverty.
Environmental and social reasons are also cited as important factors.
A growing number of community energy projects range from community-run advice services to hydro power turbines in local streams powering hundreds of homes.
To "reconnect more communities to the energy they use", the government is looking for a range of views to help ensure its community strategy inspires as many new projects as possible.
For the communities involved, it believes local projects can lead to direct benefits such as lower energy bills or income from the energy generated.
They can also help consumers secure better deals through collective purchasing.
"Community groups know their local area best," said energy secretary Edward Davey.
"I want to see them taking control of their own energy projects, generating their own power and shielding themselves against the rising cost of wholesale energy prices.
"This type of collective action has great benefits for local economies, creating jobs, offering the opportunity to develop new skills and injecting investment across the country.
Alongside the Call for Evidence, DECC and Consumer Futures have published research which reviews the evidence behind a range of community energy issues.
These include the drivers behind local projects and the potential benefits of setting them up.
Local champions appear to play a vital role in kick starting community energy projects and keeping up the momentum, according to the research findings.
The biggest drivers for local community involvement include environmental reasons, such as having a strong interest in climate change, as well as economic reasons.
But success of projects depends on a combination of factors including available investment – including access to funding – relevant local skills and buy-in from local residents.
The call for evidence for the Community Energy Strategy, including case studies of projects already in action, can be found here.
Views should be submitted online by 1 August 2013.
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