Public could own energy firm

A committee at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has recommended funding for a new, publicly-owned energy company that could reduce Western Isles utility bills.

£35,000 has been earmarked towards Hebrides Energy Company to cover initial revenue costs.

The local authority has been exploring the possibility of a cheaper alternative to private companies supplying energy to residents.

Hebrides Energy is now in the process of being established after the sustainability committee backed the idea.

It’s understood the public firm would first work jointly with a licensed electricity supply partner.

Advice is clear that there are benefits to a public energy firm, says the council.

Their spokesman said the ultimate objective is for the new firm to become a fully licensed electricity supplier, accessing local, community-owned renewable electricity and retailing that electricity at as near cost as possible to island consumers.

This will, they say, deliver significant savings to the consumer.

However , council officials were keen to stress that these savings will only be possible once sufficient volumes of generation are available.

Until then, proposals are that the new public energy firm enter into a joint venture with an existing licensed electricity supplier.

Catt Hobbs from public ownership advocacy ‘We Own It’ said: “It’s great to hear about Hebrides Energy - renewable, community owned energy schemes like these are the future. The Western Isles are part of a bigger trend towards public ownership.

“New solutions like Hebrides Energy should mean lower bills, greener energy and more say for the public.”