Norwich City Council plans to launch an energy company in spring 2019. The council looks set to approve a recommendation to work with Engie at a cabinet meeting tomorrow (14 November).
The intention is to supply 100% clean energy and help the city’s 7,000 households in fuel poverty.
By taking a white label approach, the council avoids any trading risk management, billing and back office legwork, and can concentrate on elements such as marketing and promotion.
An alternative is to acquire a supply licence. That gives local authorities full autonomy, but the cabinet report outlines the significant upfront cost involved with a licensed approach. It states Bristol Energy is not due to make a return on its £27m investment until 2021 and that Robin Hood Energy, while in the black, must use its small surplus to start repaying a £20m council loan.
The decision to partner with Engie hinged on its strong balance sheet and ability to provide “100 per cent renewable power and gas at no premium”, according to the report. Norwich anticipates signing a five-year agreement with the French utility.
The council aims for the project to be cost neutral. It will fund staff and marketing of the yet-to-be-named energy company from existing budgets, which it will supplement with customer acquisition fees.
It hopes to attract at least 1,500 customers a year and will offer a tariff that enables richer customers the chance to pay £30 more a year to directly help reduce bills for poorer customers.
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