George Osborne’s concept of a “Northern Powerhouse” is a good and timely idea. The UK economy is disproportionately skewed to London and the South East. Other regions need development and jobs. The cities of the North – from Liverpool and Manchester to Leeds and Sheffield provide a strong base with great potential. What they can achieve could provide a model for other neglected areas. But good ideas need to be translated into tangible actions. So here is one possibility – Northern Power – a municipal energy business for the North of England. Municipal enterprise is nothing new. In the UK the idea goes back to the nineteenth century developments of water supply and sanitation. In many areas that led directly on to energy – many older readers will remember the municipal gasometers which held what we called “town gas” produced from coal. Almost all the local ventures were absorbed after nationalisation into regional and then centralised entities most of which were subsequently privatised in the 1980s. Local energy companies do still exist. In Southampton a local company supplies the city’s port and council buildings and is developing district heating and insulation schemes for council houses. In Nottingham Robin Hood energy – an arm’s length business set up by the City Council – aims to provide cheaper energy and to tackle fuel poverty. Bristol has just decided to create a new business – Bristol Energy – which will focus on locally generated electricity and district heating schemes.