Sandy by solar panels

Questions still to be answered about sale of Bristol Energy

16 September 2020

Bristol Energy has finally been sold. It has cost you and I, Bristol taxpayers at least £21m. Money that still needs to be repaid from the annual budget. This means there will be less money for housing, social workers, youth workers and all the other vital services Bristol City Council offers. It also means less money for improving transport or investing in Green jobs, helping the city to get back onto its feet after Coronavirus. 

Losses are likely to soar

What is more, unanswered questions mean the costs are likely to be even higher.  The losses for last year haven’t been included. This could be millions of pounds more. It is even possible the company we have sold Bristol Energy to may not even pay up. They are already making an annual loss of £11m and are late filing their latest accounts. The headline sale price of Bristol Energy of £14m may never materialise. 

Good intentions are not enough

Bristol Energy started with great intentions and good values. However, they followed the wrong strategy and executed it poorly. They entered a cut-throat market re-selling other people’s power. They were too small. They put low prices and green electricity (a good thing) before profit, which meant they lost out to more ruthless and money-driven competitors.

The secrecy and incompetence of Bristol’s Labour leadership meant that problems were spotted too late. As a result, good money was thrown after bad. The writing was on the wall when Bristol City Council stopped using Bristol Energy to supply its own electricity two years ago. The council should have pulled the plug then. But the secrecy continued and our money propped up this failing strategy.  

Bristol Energy should have invested in energy generation

I have argued for over two years that Bristol Energy should have invested in generating power itself. It should have built wind turbines and installed solar panels. The real economy (making things that are useful) is where Bristol Energy should have invested.

There is money to be made this way. Energy companies like Good Energy have proven this. They have shown that investment in a greener future can reduce carbon emissions, is profitable and creates local jobs. 

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