The City of Bristol, currently European Green Capital 2015, will benefit from a municipal energy company called Bristol Energy if plans by Bristol City Council Cabinet are realised.
A report outlining the proposal has been submitted to the council’s Cabinet this week and a decision on the matter is expected by 3rd February. The initial impetus to go ahead with the establishment of an energy company for the city was given council support in 2010 and, if approved, the company will enter its initial set-up phase by producing a detailed business plan with a view to launching officially this summer.
Bristol is one of the first local authorities in the UK to look into the provision of a municipal energy supply. The plans for what the new company could offer are wide-reaching in that Bristol Energy would be owned wholly by the council, thereby offering local people a viable, trusted and accountable local energy company.
“We’ve been developing plans to launch a different type of Energy Company in Bristol and one which would deliver social, economic and environmental benefits” said Bill Edrich, director of the council’s Energy Service. “We’re proposing a company designed for the 21st century and there are a number of things that Bristol Energy would offer if the plans are approved. Customers would be guaranteed competitive, fair and simple energy tariffs with any profits reinvested back into local communities. The company would also provide low carbon electricity, offering customers cleaner, greener energy with a focus on sourcing power from local places to provide to local people. The company would invest in clean energy across the south west to make the UK’s energy supply more sustainable.”
Mr Edrich added that, most importantly, Bristol Energy would look at the bigger picture and deliver initiatives designed to help people use less energy, thereby making people’s homes cheaper to heat and more energy efficient. The company would also create a number of new jobs in the city, providing new career opportunities for people interested in the energy and sustainability sectors.
The council is also developing plans for district heating networks, consisting of a system of underground pipes that supply cheaper, lower carbon heat to businesses and public sector organisations.
“Bristol is a pioneer in our approach to energy and sustainability, and as usual we’re looking at how things can be done differently in order to increase our energy resilience” said Bristol City Mayor, George Ferguson. ““Bristol’s European Green Capital year offers a huge opportunity to prepare for the future. If the energy company plans are approved, and I am currently considering the detail, then it will be yet another example of how Bristol is leading the way for UK cities to become greener and more sustainable.”
In 2012 the council applied to the European Investment Bank for funding to undertake feasibility studies for the new energy company. The funding has helped to pay for the resources needed to establish plans for the project. Inspiration has come from European models in Germany and Scandinavia where a number of successful municipal energy companies are already in operation.