Devon to launch ‘efficient’ public sector energy company

Devon has become the latest county in the UK to launch a public sector company, designed to supply homes and businesses in the area with environmentally-friendly energy.

Named Dextco, the company counts among its shareholders Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Exeter, has been launched to build upon recent success in district heating.

It hopes to develop a “revolutionary” new heating network to transport heat generated by Wonford Hospital to consumers across Exeter.

Future projects will also look to involve heat distribution from the nearby Marsh Barton Energy Recovery Facility, with additional projects looking for further funding from central government initiatives established to support local heat networks.

Dextco is to spend the coming months searching for a private sector partner for its work and, if successful, believes building work on its first district heating scheme could start in 2018.

Dave Tarbet, business development director at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said the network would allow Wonford Hospital to generate the majority of its electricity on-site, enabling it to cut costs and emissions while simultaneously freeing up more resource for patient care.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy, growth and cabinet liaison in Exeter, meanwhile labelled Dextco a “win-win for everybody in the county”.

“It will deliver low carbon energy projects, encourage inward investment, drive growth in the local economy, create skilled jobs and provide secure, low carbon energy at a competitive, transparent price,” he added.

Dextco will look to follow in the footsteps of other public sector-backed energy companies such as Nottingham’s Robin Hood Energy and Bristol’s Bristol Energy, which have popularly supplied residents with renewable energy sourced from the local area. Robin Hood Energy in particular has amassed more than 50,000 customers since its launch last year.

Their success has popularised the concept of public sector-backed energy service companies (ESCOs). Local authority energy expert Stephen Cirell has published a series of blogs on the topic on Clean Energy News in recent months, all of which can be found here.