The Mayor’s Office has countered claims that London mayor Boris Johnson struck a secret deal with ‘Big Six’ utility Npower, allowing them to exclusively provide energy to intensive users inside the capital.
Johnson launched the ‘Licence Lite’ scheme in 2013 with the aim of allowing the Greater London Authority (GLA) to act as an independent utility in a similar fashion to how other local authorities have now investigated.
The GLA would buy electricity from local zero or low carbon generators before selling it onto other public bodies in the capital with the aim of keeping more investment in the city.
But newly-formed campaign group Switched on London cited a source within the GLA to claim that the mayor had actually struck a secret, private partnership with Big Six utility Npower to provide the electricity, seemingly defying the concept of Licence Lite.
The group said that the new information revealed that Npower would be “profiting from and controlling” the energy, and that it represented a “bitter blow” for London residents.
“Switched On London is calling on the GLA to introduce a people’s alternative: a publicly owned, democratic and non-profit energy company that London can be proud of. A company that cuts fuel bills and cuts polluting carbon emissions. A company controlled by ordinary Londoners, not cash-hungry business executives,” Switched on London’s Jo Ram said.
Speaking to Clean Energy News, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office insisted that no such deal had been struck. A major supplier is to be appointed by the GLA, but only to provide it with the specialist market services required to operate under the Licence Lite scheme.
“In order for the Greater London Authority to operate as a junior electricity supplier Ofgem require us to use a fully licensed electricity supplier to provide the market services and we are now in final negotiations with an external supplier to do so.
“When appointed the supplier will play no role in selecting local generators or advising the Greater London Authority who to sell electricity to,” the spokeswoman said.
However the Mayor’s Office did confirm that any appointed supplier would provide back-up quantities of electricity if there is a shortfall between the procured generated capacity and the demand.
The Mayor’s Office confirmed to CEN that while no precise figure had been attached to demand or supply, it expected any shortfall to be “quite small” and would only occur when particular generators were not operational.
It also said that it would be closely managing supply and demand, alluding to the GLA only agreeing to supply an amount of power that it was confident of sourcing.
The agreement does however reinforce London’s noted lack of renewable energy generation capacity. The capital’s uptake of solar and other renewables is behind that of most of the country, attributed mainly to the its higher amount of privately rented properties across commercial and residential sectors and the complicated nature of power purchase agreements.
Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones has been a vocal critic of London’s flagging solar uptake in the past, calling on the mayor to act. The Assembly published a report last month on the capital’s solar market which suggested several ways in which the market could be stimulated.