Kier Starmer pledges to launch nationalised energy company at Labour Party conference

Image: Labour Party

Speaking at the Party’s annual conference in Liverpool today (27 September), Starmer stated that Labour would set up ‘Great British Energy’ as a nationalized company that “takes advantage of the opportunities in clean British power” because it is the “right” thing to do to drive growth and decarbonisation while reducing the need for energy imports.

The company would be set up with public money and be publicly owned. It would be independently operated.

Starmer explained how many of the UK’s major energy assets are owned or operated by firms headquartered overseas, such as RWE and EDF -and that much of the manufacturing and assembly of the components needed to build energy infrastructure is done abroad.

He also alluded to the Chinese Government’s involvement in the UK’s nuclear energy industry, through China General Nuclear’s intended investment in Sizewell C. The Government is reportedly looking to edge out China’s involvement in the £20bn project by increasing its own investment.

Starmer continued: “None of this will be easy – it won’t be like flicking a switch. It will mean tough battles on issues like planning and regulation. But when the Tories nay-say and carp, remember this: the road to net-zero is no longer one of stern, austere, self-denial. It’s at the heart of modern, 21st century aspiration.”

It is not yet clear whether Great British Energy would cover the whole market, or operate alongside other, non-nationalised companies, with the ability to invest in privately-owned renewable energy projects. The latter approach is probably the more likely.

Starmer’s speech followed addresses made by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Shadow Secretary for Climate Change and Net-Zero Ed Miliband on Monday (26 September). These speeches emphasised the Party’s updated commitment to a fully clean power system by 2030. Reeves also pledged the creation of a new multi-billion-pound ‘national wealth fund’, blending public and

Green economy reaction

Reacting to Starmer’s address, UK100’s chief executive Polly Billington said: “While plans for a ‘Great British Energy Company’ were warmly received at the conference, the public will want more details on how exactly it will work to reduce their bills.

“A new publicly-owned energy company is a bold idea designed to grab headlines, but the details are scant and there’s no mention of the vital role of local authorities. We’re calling for a locally-led drive on energy efficiency to permanently reduce household bills and accelerate progress on net-zero. It might not be headline-grabbing, but people don’t want soundbites, they just want to be able to afford to pay their bills.”

The Trades Union Congress’s (TUC) general secretary Frances O’Grady said: This is a big, bold move that will cut bills and secure our energy future.

“This new national energy champion can provide high-quality jobs to every corner of the UK. And it’s about time the public shared in the profits of British energy.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    “Clean power”, if it is to be on demand at all times, cannot be reliant on wind, on- or off-shore.
    This leaves only nuclear, we have very little hydro, nature did not see fit!!!
    But will this happen-nuclear is best suited to base load.
    I cannot avoid the conclusion that gas is with us for some time, and it is in the North Sea.
    Richard Phillips

  2. Ken Pollock says:

    No-one ever asks Starmer what he means by “power”! Clearly, the best option is to believe he means electricity but even that is a huge ask by 2030. Massively expensive – but then his new British Energy Company will help – how exactly? Nationalise all the existing companies? Certainly, it is daft that so many are foreign owned, but first he takes “windfall profits” and then takes over the companies as well. Not coherent!
    So, the first thing would be to open the Cumbrian coal mine, to reduce imports of coking coal! Then borrow billions to pay for Orsted’s offshore windfarms, but ask them to keep running them, I guess.
    This is hardly a coherent policy for the next government – but no journalist will tackle him on it…

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