Agenda item

Breckland Collective Energy Switching Scheme (Agenda item 13)

Report of Lynda Turner, Executive Member for Localism, Community & Environmental Services.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Localism, Community & Environmental Services presented the report which asked Members to consider the establishment of a collective energy scheme for Breckland for gas and electricity.

 

The soaring price of all fuels was causing anxiety to many residents in the area.  Breckland Council was already in negotiations with an oil supplier which had stemmed from the Older People’s Forum.

 

The Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services pointed out that the Government was already looking at tariffs and asked whether this would aid such a scheme.  Members were informed that it would as the Council would have an opportunity to tender at auction twice a year.

 

The Chairman felt that enough volume would force the prices down.

 

The Executive Member for Performance & Business Development commended the Portfolio Holder for such an excellent idea and was pleased that oil was being looked at as well.  Everyone knew how much the price of power had eaten into the public’s personal income and wholeheartedly supported the scheme.

 

The Opposition Leader also felt it to be a good idea but asked to what extent Town and Parish Councils would be able to buy into the scheme.  In response the Executive Member stated that talks with parishes were already being had with regard to the oil buying groups as there tended to be more consumers for oil in villages rather than gas.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services asked about the management of the scheme particularly in relation to liabilities.  The Chief Executive advised that any liability would remain with the power companies, Breckland Council would only be responsible for the auction therefore making the scheme cost neutral.  He strongly supported this initiative.

 

The Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services was aware that there were a number of energy buying groups already out there but hoped that this would make a big impact on energy prices.   She was pleased to hear that parishes would be brought into the oil buying groups.

 

Referring to businesses, the Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman pointed out that business use fell into two categories and many small businesses, SMEs, fell into domestic tariffs.  This scheme could score points for everyone.  He stated that most of his constituents were reliant on oil but was very keen to understand how the Council was going to co-ordinate this scheme.

 

The Executive Member for Localism, Community & Environmental Services explained that the scheme would be advertised and the Team was already in negotiations.

 

The Chairman concluded by saying that this type of scheme already had the support from Norfolk Leaders who were in negotiations for acquiring a buyer’s consortium for Norfolk.

 

Option 1 - Do nothing

 

Households in Breckland would not have the opportunity to participate in a collective energy switching scheme.  They would continue to purchase energy on an individual basis, potentially at a higher price, increasing the chance of the household falling into fuel poverty.  If other local authorities offer the scheme and we do not, residents may deem us to not be supporting our local communities.

 

Option 2 - To commission our own collective energy switching scheme

 

The Council would engage the services of a private sector switching specialist to manage a collective switching scheme for the Council.

 

Option 3 - To commence a collective switching process by joining the Peterborough led consortium.

 

The Council would engage with the consortium that would operate and manage the scheme on the Council’s behalf.

 

Reasons

 

The recommendation was to commission Breckland’s own collective energy switching scheme.  Having direct management over the scheme would enable the Council to shape and develop the scheme and provide a positive message that the Council was helping and supporting its residents on a local level.  Once established, the scheme would be relatively low cost to run, as it could be predominately web based, and the bulk of marketing material would be covered within the set up costs.

 

RESOLVED that a Breckland Council collective energy switching scheme be commissioned, and subject to successful discussions, authority be delegated to the Chief Executive or the Deputy Chief Executive to enter into a contract and deliver a collective switching energy scheme on behalf of Breckland residents.

Supporting documents: