A pioneering proposal to cut household and business energy bills across Swansea has been backed by local residents.
A city-wide consultation revealed that:
- 90% of survey respondents would consider buying their energy from a local, people-friendly, not-for-profit company owned by Swansea Council;
- 95% agree that the council’s proposal to create such a company based in the city is the right approach;
- 96% agree that the council is right to address the issue of fuel poverty.
Andrea Lewis, the council’s cabinet member for homes and energy, said:
“I thank the many people who took our survey this summer.
“It attracted more than 1,000 responses and revealed that the people of Swansea would be very supportive of the idea we’re exploring as a possible solution to the broken energy market.
“There’s a long way to go yet but if we went ahead with our own energy company it would give local people and businesses a low-cost option in a market currently dominated by a small number of big businesses that charge over the odds.
“Any such company we set up would have local residents and organisations as its key focus. It would be local, people-friendly and not-for-profit. It would offer benefits to all residents of Swansea through a responsive service and competitive tariffs.
“It would help tackle poverty – a council priority; it would contribute towards a low carbon economy – another priority; it would help the economic and social wellbeing of the area – a Welsh Government priority.”
The socially responsible enterprise would use sustainable energy where possible.
A report on the results of the public survey will be presented to the council’s cabinet this year so members can plan the next stage in a feasibility study that is looking into setting up the company.
A detailed business case will be drawn up and, if considered viable, the company could launch within two years.
According to the Welsh Government, around 24,394 Swansea households (24.2%) are in fuel poverty.
The Office for National Statistics say there were 160 excess winter deaths (EWDs) in Swansea during winter 2015-16 – that’s deaths directly related to the cold weather. The World Health Organisation estimate that 30% of EWDs are a result of living in a cold home. That’s 48 needless Swansea deaths which could have be prevented.
The city’s new energy company would be set up and wholly owned by Swansea Council as an arm’s length enterprise at no cost to the taxpayer. It would be the first such council enterprise in Wales although a small number exist in England.
This business would buy energy from producers and sell it on. Costs would be low due to overheads being lower than those of the big energy companies – and it not being motivated primarily by profit.
It would be able to offer special tariffs for local people, those suffering fuel poverty, small and medium-sized businesses and council partner organisations. Surplus funds would be reinvested in local services and energy initiatives.
Cllr Lewis said:
“We’ll only go ahead if we know the business can succeed and for that we need to be sure that people would consider being customers.
“I thank the people and businesses across Swansea who took part in our consultation.”
Survey results included:
- 97.7% of people are concerned about UK energy prices
- 89.6% think they pay too much for energy
- 79.3% say price is the key factor when choosing how to buy energy
- 72.2% spend £60-£150 a month on energy
To register your interest in finding out more about the Swansea energy proposal as it develops email [email protected].