The case for a British state-owned electricity generation company

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A state-owned electricity generation company could save Britons £21bn ($24.8bn) a year (or £252 per household) while accelerating the transition to green energy, according to new analysis published by the think tank Common Wealth on 6 March. 

In the report, Common Wealth analyses a range of proposals recently set out by other stakeholders including government agencies, industry commentators and think tanks to reform the wholesale electricity market, whose fragmented design and over-exposure to natural gas has led to Britain experiencing disproportionately high energy bills since Russia invaded Ukraine, while renewable generators have reaped windfall profits

Analysing the pros and cons of a publicly owned generator compared with five other proposals recently tabled by various stakeholders – a wholesale price cap for low-carbon generators; a windfall tax on low-carbon generators; a voluntary shift to contracts for difference; splitting the electricity market; and establishing a single buyer of electricity – Common Wealth finds that the option of a state-owned electricity company comes out on top, both in terms of cost-savings potential and also which is most likely to incentivise greater investment in renewables. 

The generator would purchase the portfolio of existing UK low-carbon generation assets, including biomass and nuclear but not natural gas, in order to generate and sell electricity to households and businesses through an integrated public company using a power purchase agreement between the public generator and supplier, and would therefore, unlike many of the other options, “provide a long-term solution” to the wholesale pricing system while passing the savings directly back to households and businesses.

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