What Marvin Rees said about Bristol Energy in February

Do you collapse the company and crystalize losses at the start, and just say: right we’re sinking all that, we’re sinking now, or do you look for an avenue of making the company work?

When Marvin Rees came to UWE on February 17, he spoke on a range of topics. Here’s what he said in response to a question about Bristol Energy:

We- it’s a risk with Bristol Energy. It’s a company we’ve inherited, but you face a decision: do you do you collapse the company and crystalize losses at the start, and just say: right we’re sinking all that, we’re sinking now, or do you look for an avenue of making the company work? 

We’ve looked for an avenue to make the company work and as there’s two ways in which Bristol Energy is- y’know we hope to reposition Bristol Energy. One is that when we went out to the world market to bring in £1 billion of investment for city leap, the fact that we owned an energy company was a huge, was a huge, factor in our attractiveness.

People take us seriously as a city about energy because we have an energy company; but, was it the right sector to go into as a local authority? Probably not, right? Energy’s ferociously risky. But you start from where you are, not from where you wish you were, alright and we came in, the energy company had already started, so we inherited – we’ve got to make decisions about it. 

The second thing is that if you get beyond just signing people up to your tariffs, there’s an opportunity to reposition Bristol Energy within the city leap. So those companies that are coming to invest not just money but expertise in renewables, heat distribution, and smart energy uses, battery storage, EV charging points in retrofitted homes. We’re able to reposition Bristol Energy within that package just more than just an energy supply company but as a services company that changes the nature of the company and gives us a new opportunity, gives it a new lease of life.

But as I said, was it the right sector to go into? No, but I wasn’t my decision and you pick up, you pick up the ball and you start from where you are. But there’s no clean decision, you know, if you wanted to make an argument to crystallize those losses you’d have to go out and say right we’re just going to crystallize 20 million quid of loss. That’s a big decision too. Everything’s a risk.

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