As an exponent of responsible shareholding, CIS aims to influence the companies in which it invests on a range of social, ethical and environmental matters and is urging 40 British businesses, in which it holds £1.5 billion in shares, to follow its own lead and support generation from sources such as wind.

Last year, Co-operative Financial Services, which includes CIS and the Co-operative Bank, signed an eight year energy deal with renewable energy supplier Ecotricity, which allows it to access renewable energy at low prices. The £4 million contract guarantees that, whatever happens to electricity prices in the future, CFS will always pay less than market rate due to the long term nature of the deal.

CFS estimates that it will save £250,000 over the life of the contract.

“With the Kyoto Protocol becoming legally binding, everyone is focused on how we reduce global climate change. There is a compelling business case for using renewable energy and we therefore wanted to bring this innovative solution to the attention of other companies,” said Simon Williams, CFS’ Director of Corporate Affairs.

At present, just four per cent of the country’s electricity generation is from renewable sources, but, CIS believe, the purchasing power of other companies could greatly expand this capacity.

The long-term purchasing agreement has enabled Ecotricity to finance the construction of six new wind turbines in Lincolnshire, purpose built to supply CFS. It sources renewable energy, saves money for the user, and supports the creation of new generation capacity in the UK.

Paul Monaghan, head of sustainability at CFS said at the time of agreeing the contract: “Business should stop bleating about the price of green electricity and commit to long-term purchase agreements such as this.”

By David Hopkins

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