Research from a Glasgow Caledonian University academic has led to the formation of the UK’s first publicly-owned energy company in Wales.
Evidence initially written for the Scottish Government by Dr Keith Baker has been utilised by Welsh political party Plaid Cymru, working with the Labour-run government, to develop Wales’ first asset-owning public company. It will focus on developing windfarms on Welsh government-owned woodland, with the intention that profits from sales of electricity will be ploughed back into local communities.
The Welsh government used Dr Baker’s Powering Our Ambitions 2019policy paper as its blueprint and hopes to have the new company set up by April 2024.
Dr Baker, part of GCU’s BEAM Research Centre and Scottish think tank The Common Weal, said: “This is fantastic news. This paper was originally written to put meat on the bones of a Scottish Government ideal, with huge potential to help tackle climate change and fuel poverty. We mined our expert networks. We met with representatives of their Energy and Climate Change Directorate. We built support among the membership of the SNP and Scottish Greens, resulting in three successful motions to their party conferences, but it just didn’t come to fruition.
“We next learned that a Plaid Cymru and Labour partnership were looking at establishing a Welsh company, so we got in touch and sent them all of our material. As we currently understand it, they ended up adopting our proposals pretty much wholesale.
“As we’ve repeatedly pointed out, any public energy company needs to own its own assets in order to do basic things such as leveraging investment and maximise benefits to local communities. The Welsh Government clearly understands this. My hope is that Scotland sees this as a massive win and now chooses to follow suit.”
John Osmond, a member of Plaid Cymru and board member of Cynnal Cymru, the Sustainable Development Forum for Wales, said: “Dr Baker’s input was invaluable in helping us develop the detailed policy which built on the outline commitment we put into the Co-operation Agreement on this national energy company.”