Liverpool City Council is looking to set up its own energy company to help people save on their fuel bills.
The council’s cabinet is being asked to approve proposals to start the process of setting up a company providing energy to Liverpool households which, as well as cutting costs to householders, would also improve energy efficiency across the city and look to develop innovative ways of generating energy.
This move comes as the latest figure show one in seven households in the city live in fuel poverty and over 70,000 households – a third of all in the city – use costly pre-payment meters which are estimated to cost an extra £226 a year compared with those who use the cheapest direct debit tariff.
It is proposed that a new company -provisionally known as “the Liverpool LECCy” -would sell gas and electricity at a lower cost than other suppliers as it would operate on a not for profit basis and would have low overheads.
It would also look to replace the current costly pre-payment meters with Smart pay-as-you-go alternatives, which as well as enabling householders to manage their energy consumption better will also help cut CO2 emissions.
And it would explore innovate ways of generating energy including potentially using the River Mersey.
The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Cutting fuel bills is one of most significant ways we can help provide real and lasting benefit to Liverpool people.
“I want us to do something practical to help tackle fuel poverty, which is why we’re setting up this energy company – the Liverpool LECCy – which will be owned by and run for the people of the city, giving them a cheaper alternative energy provider.
“It’s absolutely heart-breaking how many families in this city are reliant on expensive prepayment meters and are, in effect, being penalised by paying more for their energy than those who are able to use direct debit, especially as single parent families are the hardest hit.”
Mayor Anderson added: “As government welfare reforms bite further we will do all we can to step-in and help families from falling further into poverty. The LECCy company is a practical response to that I hope people will get behind the idea.”
The Council has been working closely with other big cities which are also exploring this type of venture including Bristol, Nottingham and Leeds and is looking to share experiences with them.
It is envisaged that the council would look to form a partnership with an existing supplier to offer lower tariffs. At its meeting on18 March the cabinet will be asked to approve proposals to explore the ways of establishing the company.
Councillor Steve Munby, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “We want to remove the dread too many people feel when the gas and electricity bills arrive. Clearly householders have to pay for their energy but under the present situation the bills are far too high.
“We need to look at doing things in a different way and we are starting a process which will cut bills while finding ways of helping the environment.”