Belfast Telegraph

Council energy bill rises by £300k

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Belfast City Council’s electricity bill has risen by more than £300,000 in the past year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The council, which is Northern Ireland’s largest local authority, spent almost £1.8m on electric during the 2010/11 financial year — a significant hike on the £1.5m payed out the previous 12 months.

The statistics, which show an increase of energy consumption from 14,083,556 KWH to 16,995,631 KWH,has sparked anger among environmentalists.

Green Party leader Steven Agnew said the city council should be doing more to reduce its carbon footprint.

“Belfast City Council should be leading the way in reducing energy demand, but instead it is lagging behind,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“Investing in energy-efficient measures will not only reduce carbon emissions but will also reduce costs in the long-term.

“These savings can be reinvested in further energy efficiency measures, creating a virtuous cycle of cost savings and energy reductions.

“Public bodies such as Belfast City Council should be leading by example.”

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request which has been seen by this newspaper. A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said the spiralling costs were due to a hike in demand because of the cold weather experienced last year.

“Belfast City Council is continually seeking to reduce its energy consumption through proactive management and effective procurement processes,” she said.

“And, although subject to occasional fluctuations in pricing and usage for specific reasons, the organisation’s overall longer-term trajectory in terms of energy consumption and use is clear and positive. Looking at the data provided, you can see that from 2008 our electricity usage has been decreasing only for a spike to occur last year.

“2011 was exceptional, being one of the coldest years on record,” she said.

But Simon Horlock, a regional manager at EvoEnergy, which submitted the FoI request, claimed the rise in energy usage contradicted Belfast City Council’s environmental policy which states a commitment to reduce its impact on the environment.

Annual costs

2007: £1,390,670 (14,377,746 kw)

2008: £1,901,528 (15,570,441 kw)

2009: £1,699,270 (15,418,771 kw)

2010: £1,482,495 (14,083,556 kw)

2011: £1,797,118 (16,995,631 kw)

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