Sparks fly between green energy rivals as meeting date is set to resolve power battle

August 14, 2017

Chippenham-based renewable energy firm Good Energy today formally called on its shareholders to reject a move by arch-rival Ecotricity to put two directors on its board as it announced the date of special meeting to resolve their increasingly bitter power struggle.

Good Energy’s board used a note to shareholders alerting them of the meeting date – September 6 – to attack Ecotricity and its aims.

It included a no-holds-barred letter from chairman John Maltby listing reasons why they should vote against the move, including describing Ecotricity as an “aggressive competitor of Good Energy since our founding more than 18 years ago”.

He argues that the directors it wants to put onto the board – Ecotricity founder and 100% owner Dale Vince and board member Simon Crowfoot -have no public company board experience and so “would not meet the criteria set out by the Good Energy Board for a director”.

They would also disrupt the board, the letter claims, and hit the value of its shares.

The letter continues: “Since Ecotricity acquired their shareholding in Good Energy we have sought to have a constructive dialogue with Dale Vince and Ecotricity, but they have consistently acted against the best interests of our shareholders as a whole.

“Through their actions, they have sought to distract management from the delivery of the company’s stated strategy and we have had to divert resources to defend Good Energy against their actions.”

Good Energy was a “well-run, innovative and successful purpose-led business, with a clear strategy and a great future ahead of it”, says Mr Maltby in the letter, and the firm could also demonstrate a track record of profitable growth for the past five years.

The row boiled over last month when Ecotricity, which has amassed a 25.3% stake in London Stock Exchange-listed Good Energy over the past year, demanded places on the board for Mr Vince and Mr Crowfoot amid sharp criticism of some corporate practices at Good Energy.

The ‘green-on-green’ battle has sparked much interest in the renewables sector – where such corporate spats are uncommon.

Good Energy, which was founded more than 17 years ago by Julia Davenport, employs around 350 staff in Chippenham. It now has more than 72,250 renewable electricity customers and 43,000 carbon neutral gas customers. 

It owns the Delabole Wind Farm in Cornwall, the UK’s first commercial wind farm, and owns and operates Hampole Wind Farm, near Doncaster, along with seven solar farms.

Ecotricity, meanwhile, claims to have been the world’s first green electricity company, having been by hippie-turned-entrepreneur Dale Vince launched in 1996. 

The two have been locked in an uncharacteristic war of words for several years, which Good Energy’s letter to shareholders blames squarely on its rival.

It says: “Ecotricity is a direct competitor, which has actively sought to undermine Good Energy over the past 18 years”.

It goes on to say that “the best interests of Good Energy and Ecotricity are incompatible and there is no guarantee that any representative of Ecotricity could ever put the interests of other Good Energy Shareholders above their own. Ecotricity would have the potential to disrupt decision making at Good Energy. This could impair Good Energy's ability to compete against Ecotricity and the wider market”.

Ecotricity must gain more than 50% of all votes cast at the meeting – which takes place in Chippenham Town Hall – to secure the non-executive places on the board, including the 25.3% it already owns.

Ecotricity has yet to respond to Good Energy’s latest salvo.



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