Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has appointed consultants MAR (Scotland) Ltd to provide business planning support for the establishment of an Outer Hebrides Energy Supply Company.
With households in the Outer Hebrides experiencing the highest levels of fuel poverty in the UK, taking action to reduce electricity costs is just one strand of the Outer Hebrides Fuel Poverty Strategy being implemented by the Comhairle and other local agencies.
The primary causes of Fuel Poverty are poor energy efficiency, high fuel costs and low incomes, and the Outer Hebrides are severely impacted on all three dimensions.
It is intended that the Energy Supply Company will be established as a stand-alone entity over the next couple of months.
Along with this, the Comhairle and its partners will shortly be asking for proposals from licensed UK electricity suppliers to partner with the Energy Supply Company to offer a community tariff to residents in the Outer Hebrides, offering competitive electricity prices to island consumers.
Council Leader, Angus Campbell, commented on the proposals: “Initial market testing indicates that there is interest from certain suppliers in working with us to develop a product that can be offered specifically to Hebridean consumers, and we are looking forward to working in more detail on this over coming months to see if a package can be put together.
In the longer term it is envisaged that the Energy Supply Company could emerge as a licensed supplier in its own right, particularly should opportunities emerge to invest in and access local renewable generation, either from the commercial or community sectors.
The development of the Outer Hebrides Energy Supply Company has received funding through the Scottish Government’s CARES Infrastructure and Innovation fund, and is being delivered by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in partnership with Community Energy Scotland. Other project partners include Hebridean Housing Partnership and Tighean Innse Gall.
The progression of the Outer Hebrides Energy Supply Company is one of three areas of activitywhich the Comhairle is progressing as a result of its involvement in the Intelligent Energy Europe ‘BEAST’ project (Beyond Energy Action Strategies).