Jeremy Corbyn will outline plans to nationalise Britain’s energy network in a move that would transfer companies to public ownership soon after a Labour election win.
The Labour leader is expected to say on Thursday that the UK’s £60bn energy infrastructure – the pipes and cables that supply homes and businesses with gas and electricity – would be taken back into state control at a price to be determined by parliament.
Companies including National Grid, the network arms of Scottish Power and SSE, as well as smaller regional grids, would all come under public ownership. Current investors in those firms would be reimbursed with government bonds.
It is thought Labour believes it will be possible to pay a price below the stock market value of the companies in question, by deducting a range of items such as pension fund deficits and state subsidies, paid out to energy firms since privatisation.
Nationalisation of the energy networks form a central part of Labour’s plans to address climate change.
However, National Grid said nationalisation of energy networks would only hinder the progress already made in Britain’s shift towards renewable energy.
In a statement on Wednesday, it said: “National Grid is one of the most reliable networks in the world. We are also at the heart of the decarbonisation agenda. Only a few days ago we broke the record for the longest period of time the country has gone without coal generation.
“These proposals for state-ownership of the energy networks would only serve to delay the huge amount of progress and investment that is already helping to make this country a leader in the move to green energy.”
An SSE spokeswoman said: “Aside from extensive disruption, paying for state ownership and control of energy networks would require full compensation for owners at great expense to taxpayers, or risk destabilising UK-listed utilities, which most pensions are invested in. Neither are in the public interest.
“Electricity networks are 17% cheaper than before privatisation and more reliable thanks to £100bn of investment by private companies like SSE – all funded by private capital investment and not a penny in public debt at the expense of the NHS or schools.”
Under Labour’s plans, the energy network companies would be brought under the control of a new national energy agency.
The agency would also oversee a network of smaller entities tasked with sourcing renewable or low carbon sources for 60% of all energy use by 2030. The agencies would be responsible for initiatives including the rollout of electric car charging points.