UK Labour Party pledges to set up public energy company if elected

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Labour Party annual conference in Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour Party would set up a publicly-owned energy company within a year of coming to power if it wins the next election, leader Keir Starmer said on Tuesday, saying it would lower bills and help deliver energy independence.

Starmer said that a publicly-owned company would help ensure that energy produced in Britain benefited the British people, at a time where government has been forced to step in and support people with their sky-high bills.

"We will set up Great British Energy within the first year of a Labour government, a new company that takes advantage of the opportunities in clean British power," Starmer told the party conference in Liverpool.

"And because it is right for jobs, because it is right for growth, because is it right for energy independence... Great British Energy will be publicly owned."

Labour are ahead in opinion polls, but no election is expected until 2024.

Starmer has called for the support package for bills to be funded through a windfall tax on energy companies, rather than borrowing, and on Sunday announced an aim to make Britain's electricity 100% green by 2030.

Labour said it would work with the private sector to deliver its plans for clean power in strategic partnership with the new publicly-owned firm.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Andrew MacAskill and Kylie MacLellan, writing by Alistair Smout; editing by William James)