France-based utility company Engie has signed its first ever white label contract with a local authority in the north west of England.

Residents of Cheshire West and Chester will have access to a new local energy platform called Qwest Energy.

Renewable energy company Engie already serves 75,000 domestic energy customers in the UK. It says the deal makes it the first private sector entrant to the local authority energy market for four years.

Qwest Energy has been developed through Qwest Services – Cheshire West and Chester Council’s joint venture company, which was set up in 2015. The company provides facilities management, customer services, workplace solutions and digital transformation across the region.

The deal will also see the creation of a community fund, which Engie estimates will generate more than £600,000 over the next five years for use on local projects, including actions to reduce fuel poverty.

Qwest Energy will contribute to the Qwest Energy Community Fund for every new customer signed up to the energy platform.

The investment for the set-up and operation of the project has been provided entirely by Engie which ensures the venture is “financially risk free” for Cheshire West, Chester Council and local residents.

Last month Portsmouth Council decided to scrap the council-owned energy firm Victory Energy, before it became operational at a cost of at least £2.5 million.

Paul Roberts, managing director of Engie’s home energy business, said: “For our first local energy launch we are delighted to be providing our services to Cheshire West and Chester and to be providing a unique range of propositions tailored to the specific requirements of the area – backed by our desire to make a difference for those most in need. We see this venture as a long-term partnership for the benefit of residents across the whole region.

“When we launched our home energy business our aim was to disrupt the market with a focus on customer experience, the connected home and improving lives of wider communities.

“Aside from the high levels of customer service, Qwest Energy will provide local residents with a platform which we believe will in the future enable them to access a range of new technologies and services for their homes including batteries, PV and electric vehicle infrastructure – all helping them to embrace the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.”

Engie will provide trading arrangements, energy supply, and back-office services including dedicated UK-based customer services. Qwest Services and the council will work with Engie to market the offer to residents.

Tariffs on offer will include a discounted “Local Saver” which will be tailored to prepay customers and parts of the community identified as those most at risk from fuel poverty, as well as long-term fixed and green tariffs.

All Qwest Energy customers will have access to the company’s 100 per cent renewable electricity as standard and a “rollover promise”. The promise means customers will be automatically switched to the lowest equivalent product at the end of a fixed term and not onto a Standard Variable Tariff (SVT) which have been traditionally more expensive.

Andrew Lewis, chief executive at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Qwest Energy will support thousands of residents, the community and the environment for years to come. Not only does it offer an affordable option for residents, but the community fund will help tackle important issues like fuel poverty.”