Labour to set up GB Energy ahead of general election

Labour’s proposed public energy company GB Energy could be established before the general election to ensure the party would, if elected, hit the ground running on its ambitious energy proposals.

Shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband suggested that Labour could establish GB Energy before the general election takes place, to ensure a Labour government “will be day one ready to go” on its green energy policies.

GB Energy was first announced in 2022 by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as part of the party’s pledge to turn the UK into a “clean energy superpower”.

Miliband told Innovation Zero conference that “GB Energy could be set up in a shadow form” ahead of the election in order to be ready to operate as soon as the election is over.

The new company’s role would be to “crowd in” private investment by offering guarantees that would de risk projects, thus reducing the cost of capital.

Supporters of the proposal have suggested that GB Energy could facilitate the rollout of local energy projects and storage.

Miliband said that other day one activities for Labour would include lifting the de facto ban on onshore windfarms and ensuring communities benefit directly from such developments to avoid nimbyism.

Miliband said there was a “huge opportunity to put consumers in control” of their own energy as he proclaimed support for vehicle to grid and rooftop solar panels.

“We are in the foothills of what decentralised energy can do for our country,” the shadow energy secretary said.

Following an election win, Miliband said a Labour government would have much closer alignment between treasury and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), as well as ensuring climate adaptation was not an afterthought.

“Climate adaptation is somewhat of an orphan in government,” he said. “We have to make sure there is proper ownership around adaptation.”

The impacts, and costs, Miliband added, will only increase by not addressing the changing climate immediately.

Miliband explained that his party realised it “would have to scale back” on green energy investment from its previously pledged £28 billion, owing to the fiscal inheritance it calculated a new government would inherit.

He added that spending would still be “transformative” – between £23 billion and £24 billion over the term.

“At the moment we are not in control of our own destiny,” Miliband said. “We have to build the future on fiscal responsibility.”

Speaking at the same conference, energy secretary Claire Coutinho signalled a more hands off approach towards net zero targets from government.

Her comments sparked concern among industry figures who have warned that “affordable energy security” is dependent on “stable and long-term polices”.