The Department of Business Industry and Skills is busily, industriously and skillfully hosing down insiders with public funds it seems. Here is the latest:
The government is buying a multi-million pound equity stake in a series of onshore windfarms in an unusual move that is likely to anger Conservative backbench MPs campaigning against public subsidies for one of the most controversial forms of renewable energy.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is spending £50m on six windfarms – five onshore and one offshore – through a "cornerstone" stake in a renewable energy fund called Greencoat UK Wind, launched on Wednesday. Some of the farms are being bought outright, while others involve a stake of less than 50% being purchased from two of the big six energy companies, RWE and SSE.
So that's pretty bad. But now consider this. Greencoat UK Wind is a subsidiary of Greencoat Capital. Greencoat Capital is run by Richard Nourse. And this is Richard Nourse's former page at the Department of Business Industry and Skills. It appears that he used to be a member of the Shareholder Executive, the group charged with looking after the government's interests in commercial and quasi-commercial companies. Kind of like all those wind farms that BIS has just bought into.
The notice of the intention to list Greencoat UK Wind on the stock exchange is here. It includes some interesting information about the company's board:
The Company has a strong Board of independent non-executive directors from relevant and complementary backgrounds, offering experience in the investment management of listed funds, as well as in the energy sector both from a public policy and a commercial perspective. The Board will be chaired by Tim Ingram, former chief executive of Caledonia Investments from 2002 until 2010 and will also comprise Shonaid Jemmett-Page, former KPMG partner Financial Services, and William Rickett, former Director General for the Department of Energy & Climate Change. The Company intends to appoint a fourth director to the Board post-Admission.
William Rickett was Director General of the Energy Group at DECC.