Wakefield Council ponders setting up cheap energy firm

A council-run energy company could be set up to supply affordable warmth to homes.


Wakefield Council is drawing up plans to set up a company which could reduce gas and electricity bills as householders struggle with rising costs from mainstream suppliers.

A report to the council’s Modern Public Services scrutiny committee said energy efficiency schemes were already being offered, but action was needed to help people paying too much for energy.

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It said: “The council will therefore explore if it wants to develop a local domestic energy supply company to reduce electricity and gas fuel bills for the city’s residents and to enable the local authority to deliver innovative energy services in the future, with the intention of benefitting citizens financially and pursuing broader environmental objectives.”

The report said the UK faced an energy “trilemma” of delivering energy which was both secure and affordable, whilst meeting carbon-reduction targets.

Jobs were also being lost in the energy market with the demise of coal production, including at Kellingley Colliery, which closed last December.

The report said: “The reduction of coal-fired generation in the UK has hit our district severely in recent months, with the closure of Kellingley and the Ferrybridge C power station.”

Existing Energy Supply Companies (ESCos) included “municipally-owned” energy companies in Bristol and Nottingham which are designed to tackle fuel poverty make energy more environmentally friendly.

In Leeds, the council was also setting up a supply company through a supply agreement with the scheme in Nottingham.

The report said: “The creation of such an ESCo allows local authorities to scale-up energy services including generation projects to provide enhanced community benefits and raise revenue from providing services to local residents and businesses.”

Regulations introduced in 2010 allow councils to sell electricity generated from renewable sources.

Coun Denise Jeffery, Wakefield’s cabinet member for economic growth and skills, said: “We want all residents to be able to live in a warm home, that is affordable to heat.

“We already deliver schemes which offer home energy efficiency improvements and provide home energy advice.

“We believe that this could be complemented by creating a new local energy company, which could supply energy to homes in the district at competitive prices.

“We are currently exploring how this would work and hope to have a strategy in place later this year.”

Nottingham City Council’s non-profit Robin Hood Energy was the UK’s first local authority-owned energy supply company.

It has no private shareholders and pays no staff bonuses or high salaries to executives or directors.

It’s website said: “Because we know that no-one wants to overpay for their gas and electricity we work hard to keep our prices low and competitive to help our customers save money on their energy bills.”

It is currently home to more than 30 staff and has been in operation in various guises since 1948.

It hit the headlines in September of last year when it launched, styled as the plucky underdog taking on the so-called Big Six energy firms of Scottish Power, nPower, British Gas, EDF Energy, SSE and E.On UK who between them have more than 50 million customers across the country.