A pioneering solution is being proposed to cut household and business energy bills across Swansea which has the backing of the Labour-led City Council.
The idea would see the creation of a people-friendly not-for-profit energy services company based in the city. Local residents and organisations would be its key focus.
The socially responsible enterprise would help address the challenge of high gas and electric charges faced by Swansea residents and the difficulty faced by local businesses securing good energy deals.
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.
As part of a feasibility study into the proposal, a public consultation throughout July will ask local residents whether they would consider buying energy at a low cost from a local, people-friendly, not-for-profit company.
If the public feedback is positive, a detailed business case will be drawn up for the setting up the company. If viable, the company could launch within two years.
Cllr Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for homes and energy, said: “The energy market is broken – it’s dominated by a small number of big businesses that charge over the odds, lack transparency and offer poor customer service.
“The big six have around 80% of the market – and their normal tariffs are so high that they have significant social consequences which are picked up by the taxpayer through the NHS and local councils.
“We’re working on a possible solution – our own energy company.
“Our investigation will ask the people of Swansea if they would consider buying energy at a low cost from a local, people-friendly, not-for-profit company.”
It would be able to offer special tariffs for local people, those living with fuel poverty, small and medium-sized businesses and council partner organisations. Surplus funds would be reinvested in local services and energy initiatives.
Cllr Lewis added: “We’ll only go ahead if we know there is an appetite in Swansea for us to offer this service and for that we need to be sure that people would consider being customers.
“I hope that the people and businesses across Swansea take part in our consultation.”
To join the consultation go to: www.swansea.gov.uk/haveyoursay