Norfolk County Council plans to create company to cash in on electricity

PUBLISHED: 16:30 09 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:31 09 September 2011

Solar panels could be installed on schools and fire stations across Norfolk.

Solar panels could be installed on schools and fire stations across Norfolk.

Archant © 2007

Solar panels could be installed on schools, libraries, fire stations to slash energy bills and generate extra cash, through the creation of a private company set up by Norfolk County Council.

A report which will go before Norfolk County Council’s cabinet on Monday will hear proposals for the council to set up a standalone energy services company.

It would be owned by the council, but would operate as an independent, standalone business, able to tap into government-backed energy initiatives such as the Feed In Tariff, earning payments for delivering power to the National Grid.

Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “This is a whole new era for local government; I have said that we need to be even more creative with how we generate revenue and deliver better value for money for our residents and I believe this is one way of doing just that.

“Make no mistake; this in an innovative approach for the public sector but it is one that I firmly believe will put this authority in an enviable and financially rewarding position.

“Not only will it mean we can capitalise on the emerging renewable energy sector by attracting additional investment to Norfolk but will also deliver real savings for Norfolk residents by reducing our energy bills and generating additional income for the county council that can be ploughed back into critical front-line services.

“It is an ambitious but sensible proposal, and it demonstrates our commitment to reducing Norfolk’s carbon footprint and making our county a cleaner, greener and safer place to live.”

Cabinet members at Monday’s meeting will discuss the setting up of the energy company.

The company would initially focus on the installation of solar panels on council-owned buildings and biomass boilers, but in the long-term officers say it would support inward investment into Norfolk, including joint ventures and community interest companies.

The proposal follows collaborative working by Conservative and Green councillors at the county council and Phil Hardy, leader of the Green Party group at County Hall, said: “By working together on this initiative, not only will we reduce the council’s energy costs whilst creating an income stream, but we will leave a legacy for future generations.

“The energy services company will help kick start the low carbon economy in our county, giving us more energy security, lower carbon emissions and a new revenue stream for the council.

“This is an example of putting the people of Norfolk first, ahead of party political point scoring.”

The report suggests the initial cost of setting up such a company could be met by transferring uncommitted funds from the council’s Carbon and Energy Reduction Fund.

These will be repaid by funds from the rolling capital programme. Extra cash could come from the authority’s annual capital programme and external funding streams.

The council says start-up costs would be kept to a minimum by using its existing Carbon and Energy Reduction Programme board to manage the project.

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