ENERGY prices could be slashed in York through a series of ambitious new projects being planned by the city council.
Wind farms and/or solar energy sites in York, bulk-bought energy, and carbon credits gained by planting trees in the city are all being considered by officials and elected councillors.
A committee of backbench councillors have discussed plans to use the schemes to fight rising energy prices for York residents.
Council leader James Alexander and cabinet member for environmental services Dave Merrett have both confirmed they are considering bulk buying energy to bring prices down for York people.
The news emerged in a report to the council’s economic and city development overview and scrutiny committee.
Government figures show 9,000 households in York are estimated to be in fuel poverty, and the council’s plans have drawn support from national campaigning body National Energy Action (NEA).
The charity’s external affairs manager Peter Smith said: “Fuel poverty is a serious and growing problem, with 9,000 households in City of York alone estimated to be unable to heat their homes properly.
“NEA believes that that coordinated action by local authorities and other partners is the key to tackling fuel poverty and we welcome the fact that efforts are being made in York.”
According to a document submitted to the committee in March, special bodies could be set up to run local energy plants - either as Energy Service Companies or cooperatives - and the same paper shows the council has been looking into ways of generating electricity on its own land and across the city. The council has commissioned a report from engineering company AMEC.
A council spokesman confirmed that once it has been completed the AMEC report will be part of the next stage of the Local Plan, and the council could then start investigating renewable energy projects either on its own land or elsewhere in the city, she added.
The council’s plans are not the first examples of local energy generation planned in York. Richard Lane is chairman of York Community Energy - a not for profit group which earlier this year began to investigate a possible wind farm site at Murton Moor.
Now the group is casting the net wider in a bid to build support for its ideas across the city. Its projects would work by selling energy back to the grid and giving the profits to the community either via dividends or bond payments.
Mr Lane praised the council’s ideas and said: “We would like to see cooperative owned sites so local residents can have a say in how they are run.”
Although the council is looking at both wind and solar energy, Mr Lane said the Community Energy group supports wind over solar farms.
As Wednesday’s meeting the scrutiny committee decided against an immediate review of the issue, but it will reconsider the matter in October.
It also decided not to launch a review of the Lendal Bridge closure trial, with Labour councillors voting down a proposal supported by the Green, Conservative and Liberal Democrat members, by four votes to three.