An energy saving drive was launched by the Local Government Association last week as new figures reveal that the spiralling costs of gas, petrol and electricity prices have increased the amount spent by councils on fuel by up to £364million in the first six months of 2006.

The research reveals that at the beginning of 2005, before the rapid price hikes in energy supplies, local authorities spent:

  • £425million on electricity
  • £280million on gas
  • £500million on petrol

Since January 2006, gas prices have risen by 37%, electricity by 33% and petrol/diesel up by 9%.

Local councils now face a combined energy cost of £1.81billion – a rise of £364million (25%) in the last 6 months.

Councils are turning to other fuels which in the long run are cheaper and greener. For example Chester city council buys its electricity from new renewable sources for all council offices and Worcestershire county council has put in wood fuel boilers in some of its schools.

The Local Government Association is to urge councils across the country for the sake of the council taxpayer to redouble their efforts to put in as many energy efficient measures as possible to help keep costs down and reduce damage to the environment.

Chairman of the Local Government Association, Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said:- “Local authorities spend hundreds of millions ensuring that critical services never stop. Yet, like all electricity and gas users, councils are seeing their energy bills going through the roof.

“Councils cannot switch off lights or heating to save energy in the way that homeowners can. People rely on us day in day out to provide both the critical services they need and the ones they enjoy.

“With councils already having to tighten their belts, the rising energy costs will be a deeply worrying unwelcome headache. Local authorities will continue to drive up energy efficiency to drive down energy costs.

“Councils have been leading the way in adopting new environmentally friendly ways of saving energy but we need to continue to do more. This has the triple effect of reducing costs to council taxpayers, cutting the effects on the environment and encouraging local businesses to embrace these new technologies.”