By Democrat reporter
An energy company is being established by West Dunbartonshire Council to operate and manage a new unique heating system in Clydebank.
West Dunbartonshire Energy LLP will take on the day to day running of the District Heating Network at Queens Quay when it goes live later this year.
The company will not be known as Bunch of Warmers or as Roasters Incorporated despite speculation that it would be since the SNP administration has already squandered £5 million of public money on it.
The “ambitious” project, part of the regeneration of the former John Brown Shipyard, will mean the area’s homes, businesses and some public buildings are heated by water taken from the Clyde.
The new company will be 100% owned by the Council and will be managed by Council officers, with additional support from specialist advisers, alongside minority partner Clydebank Property Company Ltd.
A strategic board which will oversee the operation will include cross party elected members as well as a representative from the community it serves. It has not been revealed if the members will be remunerated.
West Dunbartonshire Energy LLP will have a number of responsibilities at the site including the commercial management of the District Heating business, approving the tariff structure and pricing, monitoring the performance of Vital Energi, who will be responsible for the day to day running of the Energy Centre and Pipe Network, ensuring a high standard of customer relations, developing the network and negotiating terms for new customers.
At a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council on Wednesday, members approved the creation of the Energy Supply Company (ESCo), as well as agreeing the Council should make a temporary investment of £1m into the ESCo to allow the project to begin operations with appropriate funds.
Elected members also agreed to increase the District Heating Network project’s capital funding by £1.058m, taking the total to £20.458m, to enable the completion of the Energy Centre on site.
Current projections show the project would repay the capital investment in full within 30 years.
West Dunbartonshire Council will meet £14.458 million of the cost of the system, with the SNP’s Scottish Government funding £6.1 million through the European Regional Development Fund.
A number of public buildings including Clydebank Leisure Centre, the new Queens Quay care home and health centre and the Council’s offices at Aurora House, Titan Business Centre, the Town Hall and Clydebank Library will be heated by the system.
The District Heating system will also provide heat to all housing development on Queens Quay . The Wheatley Group ,Clydebank Housing Association and the Council have already signed up for the supply of heat at their new Housing development presently being built at Queens Quay.
The SNP group plus “Independent” Denis Agnew and the Golden Jubilee Hospital and Clydebank College, which they say they may be able to heat with the already £5 million over-budget communal heating scheme at Queen’s Quay in Clydebank.
It also has the potential to heat West College Scotland and the Golden Jubilee Hospital.
Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “I am pleased to see the Council take another step forward with the District Heating Network, which I believe will have a hugely positive impact on Queens Quay and Clydebank as a whole when it becomes operational in October.
“It will also make a valuable contribution to achieving carbon reduction targets in West Dunbartonshire, removing more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon from the environment each year for the next 40 years.
“The creation of this ESCo means the primary aims of establishing the network – that is carbon reduction and addressing fuel poverty – will remain under the control of the Council.”
Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added: “As well as the environmental advantages, residents of Queens Quay will reap the rewards of lower bills and use of a system which requires less upkeep than a traditional gas boiler.
“Any trading surpluses generated by the network can also be reinvested to bring the benefits to a wider audience by expanding further into the district – including the possibility of heating the Golden Jubilee.
“I look forward to seeing this project continue to progress ahead of its launch in October.”
The SNP administration refused to discuss the fact that the Council under a Labour administration had a district heating system in the past at Bonhill and that it lost a lot on money and was a desperate failure.