Wales politics

Wales needs not-for-profit energy company, says Plaid Cymru

Electricity pylons Image copyright PA

Wales needs a not-for-profit energy company to reduce the cost of energy bills, Plaid Cymru has said.

The party has proposed that an organisation, similar to the not-for-profit Welsh Water, is set-up to drive investment in the sector.

Energy spokesman Simon Thomas said Wales needs a national energy company "to focus on reducing energy prices for consumers through renewable sources".

Both Labour and the Tories have pledged caps on energy prices.

Labour's UK general election manifesto pledged to move towards a publicly-owned energy system and an emergency price cap to ensure that the average dual-fuel household energy bill remains below £1,000 per year.

The Conservatives have also pledged a cap on energy prices - Prime Minister Theresa May claimed that 17m households would benefit by up to £100 from the cap on poor-value standard variable tariffs.

Plaid's Mr Thomas said: "Even though we have 1,000 miles of coastline and five million acres of land, we produce less renewable energy than elsewhere in the UK.

"Despite being a net exporter of electricity, Welsh consumers are faced with higher bills than any other country in the UK.

"The answer is not to place an arbitrary cap on bills but to take profiteering shareholders out of the equation and take ownership of our own energy."

Plaid Cymru is not proposing full nationalisation - the proposed Ynni Cymru (Energy Wales) organisation would exist within the current energy market.

Instead, the organisation would drive investment in infrastructure, renewables and research and development in a bid to reduce the cost of energy and tackle climate change.

It would act as a producer and would not provide electricity and gas direct to people's homes - but the body could also co-ordinate the development of local co-operative and municipally-owned providers that do.

Although the proposal is a part of the party's general election pledges, it is thought that it is something that would be implemented through Wales' devolved institutions. Plaid said the organisation would be wholly owned by the Welsh Government from the outset.

'Reheated' policy

Welsh Conservative environment spokesman David Melding said: "We do not support the nationalisation of energy, as we believe that the sector works best for consumers and businesses when it operates within the market.

"The Prime Minister has already set out her ambition for Britain's energy costs to be the lowest in Europe, and we are now working hard towards meeting that end."

A spokesman for the Welsh Liberal Democrats said the party was "committed to tackling climate change and unlocking the potential of our environment to drive economic growth and bring energy prices down for consumers".

A UKIP Wales spokesman said: "The policy of carbon taxes which Plaid Cymru supports exposes the people of Wales to exorbitant energy prices.

"Typically, Plaid's answer to the ill-effects of their own policy is to serve up this reheated cabbage from a previous manifesto."

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