Peterborough City Council looks to Chinese investors to power Environment Capital dream

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Peterborough City Council is poised to become the first local authority in the country to create a new investment partnership with a Chinese firm to fund clean technology projects.

The council is about to sign a multi-million pound strategic partnership arrangement with AVIC International Corporation, a subsidiary of the Chinese state owned AVIC International Corporation Holding.

Under the deal, AVIC will fund a series of clean energy and efficiency projects, including solar panel installations, LED street lighting upgrades, and smart meter deployments.

One of the first projects to be supported through the new partnership is expected to see the installation of solar PV canopies at city car parks.

The deal is expected to be agreed by members of the council’s ruling cabinet on Monday.

Councillor Marco Cereste, council leader, said: “Peterborough is committed to becoming the environment capital of the UK.

“Our partnership with AVIC will give us access to expertise, infrastructure and funding that will help us achieve this goal.

“We have already identified renewable energy schemes, energy efficiency improvements, city-wide wi-fi, passenger transport improvements and infrastructure investments that could all benefit from this partnership.

“AVIC has an ambition to generate 100 megawatts of renewable energy in the UK.

“If we want to secure the future of our environment, and also our local economy, this is an ambition that Peterborough should share.

“I am excited about what could be available to Peterborough as a result of this partnership and cannot wait to see what the future holds.”

Liu Xiaoming, ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United Kingdom, added: “This is excellent news for Chinese investment into the UK.

“I am happy with the deal between AVIC and Peterborough City Council.

“I am also delighted that the initiatives of the government of China and the UK on investment in technology, city regeneration and the acceleration of the smart cities are now starting to take effect.

“I hope that this deal will continue to develop and will benefit the people and the community of Peterborough for many years to come.”

News of the deal comes as the council also reveals details of a new partnership with the Bristol-based energy supply company Ovo.

If the Ovo deal is agreed, also on Monday, it could mean cheaper energy bills for many city residents.

Under the partnership, Ovo will create tariffs, exclusive to residents with Peterborough postcodes, that are amongst the cheapest in the country.

The new tariffs will be jointly branded between Ovo and the council.

Ovo will manage and operate the scheme, whilst the council will promote the new tariffs in the city.

Cllr Cereste said: “Our deal with Ovo is a win, win opportunity.

“It’s a win for Ovo, the council and most importantly Peterborough residents.

“It demonstrates our aspiration to become the UK’s environment capital, but also strikes the best deals for the people of Peterborough.

“Residents will benefit from some of the cheapest dual and single fuel energy prices on the market.

“Those on prepay tariffs will even get free smart meters, to help them save more money.

“The council will attract another major energy company into the city. Ovo has agreed to look into further investment opportunities in Peterborough as part of their energy obligation and a future agreement to purchase energy generated by the council.

“Ovo will benefit from the council promoting these exclusive tariffs to those with a PE post code, allowing them to pass on savings to residents, putting money back in local pockets.”

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Ovo founder and chief executive, said: “This partnership is part of Ovo Energy’s plan to democratise the energy market and increase innovation, and is the fourth such local partnership following hot on the heels of Plymouth Energy Community, Cheshire East Council and Community Energy South in just eight months.

“Ovo Communities is an ‘out of the box’ solution for local organisations, such as Peterborough City Council, which want to cut out the middle man and become an energy company themselves – from supply and generation, to smart technology and energy efficiency.

“Ovo’s aim is to set up 100 community energy supplier partnerships across the country, ultimately serving over a million customers.

“We launched Ovo Communities because we really believed the UK energy market was ripe for big changes. We want to provide a platform where people can come together, create their own systems, build their own innovations and create genuine partnerships.

“We are really excited to have the opportunity to literally put the power back into the hands of the people in the Peterborough area.”

It is the council’s involvement in marketing the scheme that will allow Ovo to offer residents a cheaper price for their energy.

The initial aim of the partnership is to establish the new tariffs.

However, over the course of the agreement other opportunities could include the roll-out of smart meters to residents, Energy Companies Obligation funding for local projects, an agreement for Ovo to purchase energy generated by the council.

Under the terms of the agreement neither the council or Ovo will pay any money to the other party, as the council secures cheaper energy prices for local residents and Ovo benefits from promotional support from the council.