Survey lays bare cost of fuelling councils

Portsmouth City Council has debunked claims that its energy bills are costing both the taxpayer and the environment too much
Portsmouth City Council has debunked claims that its energy bills are costing both the taxpayer and the environment too much
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PORTSMOUTH City Council has debunked claims that its energy bills are costing both the taxpayer and the environment too much.

Energy supplier Bulb today called on councils nationwide to switch to renewable energy from smaller providers when powering their premises in a bid to save money and the environment.

From freedom of information requests the company discovered last year nine out of ten councils got their energy from one of the big six suppliers at a total cost of more than £863m, despite 20 per cent of households switching to a smaller firms.

But a Portsmouth City Council spokesman stated residents were not being ripped off by providers NPower and Total Gas & Power, saying: ‘When buying energy we join up with about 150 other councils to increase our buying power, and get the best deal on the market. We constantly monitor this to make sure Portsmouth council taxpayers get value for money, which is our main consideration when buying energy.’

They also defended the council’s use of renewable energy, saying: ‘We’re not against using green energy – in fact, we’re already using it.

‘We’ve installed solar panels on more than 200 of our buildings, with further installations in the pipeline.

‘We save energy by installing energy-efficiency measures too, such as LED lighting. For instance, at the civic offices we have cut electricity use by 40 per cent and gas use by 22 per cent in five years.’

Hayden Wood, the co-founder of Bulb, said: ‘There’s a huge opportunity for councils across the south east to lead from the front and show that they are committed to a renewable future.’

The survey from Bulb broke down the cost of council premises’ energy bills which showed Portsmouth’s bills cost £4.99 per household. In comparison, for residents on the Orkney Islands in Scotland the average cost was £165 and in Milton Keynes taxpayers pay £83 per household.

Southampton City Council’s cost per household was found to be £77, and the cheapest in the south east was South Oxfordshire at 80p. However, these requests were not specific as to which council premises were included and are not comparable, as some might only account for civic offices whereas others might have added the costs of other council owned properties to the total.