Bristol City Council is said to be looking to sell on its utility business, Bristol Energy, during a tough time for energy suppliers.
First reported by Sky News, the Council is allegedly planning to sell on Bristol Energy’s customer book amid financial concerns.
When contacted by Current±, a spokesperson for Bristol City Council did not confirm or deny the sale but did state that accountancy firm Ernst and Young “has been commissioned to provide professional advice to the Council by undertaking a full and thorough assessment of Bristol Energy’s structure and future business viability”.
“A key objective is to mitigate the extent of any additional funding requirement from the Council beyond the existing agreed funding envelope,” the spokesperson added.
Bristol Energy would not be the first council-owned supplier to run into financial difficulties. Struggling supplier Robin Hood Energy – which is owned by Nottingham City Council – posted a loss of £23.1 million in its latest financial results, having also recently clashed with Ofgem over Renewables Obligation fees.
Portsmouth City Council’s supply division, Victory Energy, also faced problems despite the Council’s attempts to emulate Bristol Energy and Robin Hood Energy. After failing to find a buyer, the Council closed the division in September 2019.
Small suppliers have been struggling in recent years, with seventeen closing since the beginning of 2018, including GnERGY and Toto Energy, both of which were handed final orders by Ofgem over Renewables Obligation fees alongside Robin Hood.
Bristol Energy, however, has made a number of new announcements in the last few months, including going 100% renewable with the launch of three green energy tariffs in January.
The company – which has around 100,000 residential customers – partnered with software company Eliq for the development of an AI-enabled energy monitoring app last year, securing government funding for the project.
The supplier is also involved in the Bristol City Leap project, which is aiming to transform the city into being net zero by 2030.
Bristol City Council announced in September 2019 that it was raising £1 billion to achieve the decarbonisation, with Bristol Energy set to bring forward and deliver smart energy propositions as well as benefit itself from additional investment.