City to create energy firm to slash fuel bills Tories slam plan that has seen other cities make loss
BIRMINGHAM City Council is set to take the plunge into the energy market in a bid to slash bills for thousands of citizens – but opposition Tories claim the move could mean even higher bills.
City council Labour bosses said that energy privatisation had failed to deliver lower costs and cleaner energy and so it was up to the city council to step in.
They are looking to set up an energy company which is fullylicensed to sell gas and electricity to citizens and businesses – rather than sign a partnership deal with an existing supplier.
The city council is not the first to create an energy company – Nottingham and Bristol have already set up their own firms.
Cabinet member for the environment Lisa Trickett said: “After some 30 years of privatisation and 17 years of full retail competition the energy market has failed. It failed the most vulnerable in our society, it has failed the environment and failed to bring forward clean energy.
“The market needs to be cleaned up and it is our intent to enter that market as a city council and provide that alternative supply.”
She said the the city council’s size, in terms of its £25 million a year energy bill, its partnership with universities and public sector organisations and the city’s 400,000 households will help it deliver a business case which stacks up.
But there was concern from opposition Conservative leader Robert Alden who warned that ‘Robin Hood Energy’ in Nottingham was making a £1.6 milliona-year loss while carrying debt of £8.9 million.
He said: “I have serious concerns about this. The aim is cheaper energy, green energy and running a profit for the council.
“In May there were 13 cheap- er rates than either Nottingham or Bristol’s energy rates. So we’re going to be signing up residents to something which is not the cheapest or be encouraging residents not to sign up to us.”
However, Cllr Trickett said about 58,800 households in Birmingham live in fuel poverty and are faced with a daily dilemma of whether to ‘heat or eat’.
She said they often end up paying more because they lack access to the internet to shop around, do not have bank accounts to access direct debit discounts or cannot afford decent insulation and efficient boilers. The new council company would look to provide assistance to bring their bills down.
The proposed firm would also invest in local sources of low carbon and renewable energy such as solar panels and wind turbines with a focus on the Tyseley Energy Park project.
The cabinet has agreed to invest £300,000 in research to set out the full business case for the energy company.
We’re going to be signing up residents to something which is not the cheapest or be encouraging residents not to sign up to us Cllr Robert Alden, above