Letter: Deputy Mayor disputes cost saving of dumping green energy

Hackney Town Hall Photo: Hackney Citizen

Hackney Town Hall. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

In response to the article in Hackney Citizen (October) regarding Hackney Council’s position on sustainability – I write to point out an error that would have misled readers.

When the council switched its energy supplier the saving was £46,000 not the £7,000 stated. Instead of accusing me of being misleading in your headline I would have hoped that at least the facts were correctly reported.

Hackney is one of the greenest London boroughs for carbon emissions and the most recent National Indicator data puts us joint second in London in terms of per capita emissions at 3.8 tonnes per head with only Redbridge lower at 3.6 tonnes.

Rising living standards across the borough and more wealthy residents moving here are creating real challenges in terms of reducing energy consumption.

There are also other factors such as the regeneration of our housing estates and the development of new housing, commercial and business premises as well as our role as a host borough for London 2012 – all of which make demands on energy use.

We acknowledge that domestic carbon emissions present a particular challenge. We are working with Hackney Homes to improve our own housing stock through the Decent Homes programme. We are also working with London Warm Zone to reach out to homes in the private sector.

We commission an award-winning energy advice service available to all residents which provides advice on how to reduce energy consumption and fuel bills, and a range of other green subjects including how to generate renewable energy at home.

Councillor Sophie Linden
Deputy Mayor, Hackney Council

Editor’s response:

The Hackney Citizen calculated the £7,000 figure thus: through a Freedom of Information request made by the Citizen in August 2009, we learnt that of the £46,000 that the council saved by leaving the ‘green’ tariff, around £34,000 was spent on energy-savings measures, which in turn saved the council £73,515.

This left a ‘green credit’ of £39,515, which nearly covered the extra cost of the green tariff – we argued that for around £7,000 more the council could have retained the tariff.

Readers may remember that the council ran a front page story in its freesheet Hackney Today on 18 June 2007 when it switched to ‘green’ energy: “Everything’s gone green in Hackney,” trumpeted a front page splash. However, just a year later the Town Hall quietly reverted to buying ‘brown’ energy.

The Hackney Citizen quizzed the council about when exactly it dumped the ‘green’ tariff.

A council spokesperson said it officially reverted to brown energy in April 2008, explaining that the driver for this was the energy supplier increasing its premium for hydro generated electricity by 1000% in one year.

Asked by the Citizen what efforts  the council had made to inform Hackney residents that it left the green tariff and the reasons why it had done so, the spokesperson explained that the details were made publicly available online in the papers for the council’s Cabinet Procurement Committee, 21 October 2008.

But it all went curiously unmentioned in Hackney Today, the council’s award-winning ‘newspaper’.



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