Municipal Energy Company planned for Bristol

Pioneering plans to establish a municipal energy company, known as Bristol Energy, are set to be decided on by Bristol City Council’s Cabinet.

Photo: Chris Bahn
Pioneering plans to establish a municipal energy company, known as Bristol Energy, are set to be decided on by Bristol City Council’s Cabinet.

A report outlining the proposal has been submitted to Cabinet this week and a decision is expected on 3rd Feb. Initial go-ahead to establish a company was given council support in 2010.

If approved, the company will enter the set-up phase to produce a detailed business plan, with a view to launching this summer during Bristol’s European Green Capital year.

Bristol is one of the first local authorities in the UK to look into municipal energy supply and the plans for what Bristol Energy could offer are wide-reaching.

Currently it is proposed that the company would be wholly owned by the council and offer people a viable, trusted and accountable local energy company.

Bill Edrich, director of the council’s Energy Service, said: “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.

“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.

“Most importantly Bristol Energy would look at the bigger picture and deliver initiatives which would help people to use less energy, making people’s homes cheaper to heat and more energy efficient.”

The company would create a number of new jobs in the city, providing career opportunities for people interested in the energy and sustainability sectors.

The council is also developing plans for district heating networks – a system of underground pipes that supply cheaper, lower carbon heat to businesses and public sector organisations.

Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, said:  “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.
“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 feasibilities studies for an energy company.

Funding was granted which has helped to pay for the resource to establish plans for the new company.

Inspiration for the business comes from European models from Germany and Scandinavia where a number of successful municipal energy companies operate.

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