That said, I believe Bristol should hold its nerve and continue to invest in the company. There need to be two immediate changes though. Firstly, Bristol City Council absolutely has to buy energy from its own company and secondly, it needs to change its strategy.
Bristol Energy currently distributes power generated by other companies.
Instead it must start generating its own energy. Not only will this create jobs, and contribute to our goal of carbon neutrality, but it would be a real investment in the future and make profit that could safeguard frontline services.
Most new companies lose money in their first years. This is to be expected as they establish themselves in the market and build brand and reputation.
So, calls for the council to pull out are premature. It is exactly this kind of investment that councils across the country are making in order to shore up their finances in the long term and make sure essential front line services have the money they need in the future.
Whilst, as a member of the public, we don’t get to see Bristol Energy’s strategy or the details of their accounts, we do know that they buy power from the national grid and power generators and then resell it across the UK.
This is a hugely crowded market with hundreds of re-sellers competing for our business. Many do not have the social or environmental values of Bristol Energy and can undercut on price.
If Bristol Energy became a power generator, building wind turbines and solar farms, then they would add real value both to the environment and long term income for the city.
Renewable energy is the fastest growing energy market in the UK and is only set to grow further. It is cheap and creates more jobs than traditional energy generation techniques.
We have great expertise in the region and could capture some of the energy market by using the council borrowing to invest – generating energy directly for Bristol people, creating jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and putting profits back into the city.
Sandy Hore Ruthven is the Green Party’s Bristol mayoral candidate
Read more: ‘Bristol Energy is at a turning point’