Suffolk Greenest County claims questioned as council agrees new nuclear energy deal
Opposition councillors at Suffolk County Council have raised fresh questions over the council’s ‘Greenest County’ claim, after it has emerged its new energy deal relies 100% on nuclear power.
A motion was submitted by the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group to Thursday’s full council meeting calling on the authority to commit to ensuring at least 50% of its energy use is from renewable sources.
It also asked the council to commission a report in setting up a smart grid – a power grid enabling it to access stored power from renewable sources – and work with partners to move to a low-carbon future.
But an amendment tabled by the Conservative group was instead passed following a vote, which said it would deliver its own local energy plan which “includes the potential implementation of smart grid pilots in Suffolk”.
It added that it would urge future administrations to look at low carbon and renewable power for future contracts.
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Councillor Andrew Stringer, who put forward the original motion, said: “I am very disappointed they felt the need to amend our motion – a motion which only asked for three very simple things.
“The Tories have completely watered it down and removed any substantive actions or commitments.
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“What’s left is simply ‘virtue-signalling’. That doesn’t help anybody – what we need is firm, decisive action.
“Given the urgency of acting to halt climate change, this council ought to feel ashamed it couldn’t even commit to these three simple actions.”
Mr Stringer said the council’s new energy deal starting from April next year was a “step backwards” as it will rely on 0% renewable energy while its existing contract includes 18% green energy.
Councillor Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment, said: “From April 2019 Suffolk County Council will have its electricity supplied by EDF Energy, on a three year contract and a tariff which is 100% nuclear.
“Most importantly, it is rated zero carbon per kWh. This is an environmentally sound decision for our low-carbon future and affirms our commitment for Suffolk to be the Greenest County.
“It is also a financially sound decision, being one of the best value tariffs available at the time of negotiation.
“If we looked to renegotiate this agreed deal now, it is estimated to cost the council an extra £456,000 each year.”
“In addition, the county council continues to maximise clean energy production from its own buildings, helping the environment and saving the Suffolk taxpayer money.
“Over 90 properties, including schools, have solar panels installed and are generating their own energy.
“Further, the recent council-backed Solar Together Suffolk scheme has seen over 800 Suffolk homeowners accept heavily-discounted offers to have their own solar panels installed. More homes will now generate their own energy and receive income from the government’s feed-in tariff.
“The council has also installed battery storage at its Constantine House offices in Ipswich, which is the beginning of a ‘smart grid’.
“This means we are looking into ways to make energy ‘work smarter’ for us. It allows any solar power generated from the building to be stored for our own future use, rather than immediately sending it to the national grid.”