So it appears we’ve finally reached a conclusion in the long-running saga over Portsmouth City Council’s energy company.
At yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Victory Energy was axed by the city’s administration. The ruling Liberal Democrats said the venture, set up to provide low-cost renewable electricity to residents and generate cash for the council, would be ‘too risky’ to continue with and pulled the plug.
They’ve said the same ever since they regained control of the council from the Tories after May’s elections. So, despite Labour and Conservative opposition groups getting the issue sent to cabinet to be reconsidered, this was only ever going to go one way.
Tory councillor Donna Jones insists Victory Energy is a ‘highly investable’ business that would have gone on to generate millions of pounds. But her successor as council leader, Lib Dem Gerald Vernon-Jackson, was never convinced by that argument.
Various figures have been bandied about regarding how much profit Victory Energy could have made after an initial investment. But that was dependent on a certain number of customers signing up.
With council budgets so tight and it having to subsidise its own shipping firm MMD, Cllr Vernon-Jackson didn’t want to end up in a position where it would have to pour millions of pounds into Victory Energy that it could not afford.
The problem now is that the council is going to take a hit on Victory Energy of between £1.7m and £4m – and it will keep costing it £18,000 every week until the business is sold.
That’s a concern, but could it have ended up costing even more to run the Victory Energy project? We’ll never know. Now the decision has been made, we must hope a private sector buyer is found quickly and we can all move on.