Plans progress for power supply company in Western Isles
Herald Scotland, By David Ross
The first steps have been taken to establishing an energy supply company in the Western Isles to tackle the worst rates of fuel poverty in the land.
Reductions of £130 a year on island electricity bills are seen as a realistic target in the short term.
The Western Isles Council has now appointed consultants MAR (Scotland) Ltd to provide business planning support for an Outer Hebrides Energy Supply Company.
It is intended that the company will be established as a stand-alone entity over the next couple of months. The council and its partners will be asking for
proposals from licensed UK electricity suppliers to become partners with the Energy Supply Company in order to offer a community tariff to residents in the Outer Hebrides.
Households in the Highlands and Islands pay 2p a unit more than consumers elsewhere in Scotland. Meanwhile the Outer Hebrides have the highest fuel poverty figures in Scotland at 71%, compared to a 27% Scottish average.
Council Leader, Angus Campbell said "Initial market testing indicates that
there is interest from certain suppliers in working with us to develop a product that can be offered specifically to Hebridean consumers, and we are looking forward to working in more detail on this over coming months to see if a package can be put together."
He said that in the longer term it was envisaged that the Energy Supply Company could emerge as a licensed supplier in its own right, particularly should opportunities emerge to invest in and access local green energy generation through wind, wave and tidal projects.
The development of the Outer Hebrides Energy Supply Company has received funding through the Scottish Government’s CARES Infrastructure and Innovation fund, and is being delivered by the council in partnership with Community Energy Scotland.
Other project partners include Hebridean Housing Partnership and Tighean Innse Gall, housing association.