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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Could your council save you £300 on your energy bills?


Do you want lower energy bills? Innovative community 'bulk-buying' scheme aims to slash bills as price hikes bite.

I first heard about this a while ago, and thought that since we all fund the council through our tax it's about time they did something to earn their keep! We have just switched to our local scheme run by Southend Council and I can tell you that their quote was amongst the most competitive, and also gives you the peace of mind that 33% of the energy you use is produced by green sustainable means.

The most informative article I have found on what other councils are offering similar schemes was by The Guardian, I will insert their article below for those interested. It is worth noting the Nottingham Councils aptly named Robin Hood Energy are willing to accept customers that live outside of their geographical locale.


Article by The Guardian:


Local authorities including Southend, Nottingham and Peterborough are offering deals that make what the big six charge ‘look crazy’, with more councils set to follow suit.
Local authorities are starting to challenge the dominance of the big six energy companies by offering gas and electricity direct to the public for the first time since the 1940s. And early evidence suggests that residents who are switching to these local suppliers are saving an average of £250 on their bills.
Some households have managed to lop £400 or more off their annual heating and lighting costs after deciding to “go local”, with one council reporting that 60% of its new customers had never switched supplier before.
With millions of people still overpaying for their gas and electricity, this latest shake-up of the energy market is being described as a way of “putting the power back into the hands of the people” and offering a competitive local alternative to the usual firms.
Which councils are taking part?
Cheshire East council started the ball rolling when it teamed up with independent supplier Ovo Energy to launch its own energy offer, making it the first local authority to sell gas and electricity since these sectors were nationalised in 1948. The venture, called Fairerpower, opened its doors in March this year, and this week revealed it has so far signed up almost 3,000 customers from across Cheshire East, which takes in the towns of Crewe, Knutsford, Macclesfield and Wilmslow.
Peterborough city council’s similar venture, Peterborough Energy, went live in April, and a month later Southend-on-Sea borough council followed suit with Southend Energy. As with Fairerpower, these two are both the result of a link-up with Ovo, which hopes to announce two further “partnerships” by the end of this year.
In all three cases the ventures are run by the councils, though it is Ovo which buys the energy and is in charge of things such as billing. And with all three, only residents of the respective council areas can become customers, although there are hopes of eventually expanding this.
Just over two weeks ago Nottingham city council joined the fray by launching a supplier called Robin Hood Energy which – unlike the others so far – is available to anyone, no matter where they live – though locals get an extra discount. It has set itself a target of signing up 10,000 customers a month, and is going it alone. The company is buying in gas and electricity from the markets, but hopes in future to use energy generated from the city’s incinerator, solar panels and waste food plants.
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What are the prices like?
Very competitive. When Guardian Money looked this week, the council suppliers were not offering the absolute cheapest tariffs on the entire market, but were only a few pounds off. And the Peterborough and Southend fixed tariffs in particular may appeal to those who would like a decent chunk of their electricity to come from renewable sources, according to ethical money website Good-with-money.com. That’s because in both cases, 33% of the electricity comes from “green” sources – wind, solar, biomass etc – although Southend also has a 100% green option which costs a little more. In the case of the Fairerpower fixed tariff, the percentage is a lot lower: 15%.
The people who stand to gain the most from switching are those who are sitting on one of the big six companies’ standard tariffs. Ovo Energy told Money that, based on dual-fuel customers who had switched to its three council partners as of 30 August, the current average saving is £251, and adds that the ventures are “successfully converting the ‘stickier’ customers who have not switched for years”.
That figure was borne out by our number-crunching. Money posed as a typical medium-use customer living in Southend and keyed our details into the Southend Energy website. It quoted us £840 a year for its 12-month fixed dual-fuel deal. That’s £254 less than the average £1,094 which an equivalent big six standard tariff customer pays by monthly direct debit, according to uSwitch.com. Then we tried the same thing with Robin Hood Energy, which quoted us £845. When we repeated the exercise with Peterborough Energy, again posing as a local resident, the results were identical.
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There are a handful of slightly cheaper deals out there: extraenergy, First Utility and EDF had deals costing £825, £826 and £830 respectively.
What are people saying?
Becky O’Connor at Good-with-money.com says the local council-run suppliers “have made astonishing progress in the last year”. She adds: “They are now among the very cheapest deals on the market, taking on the dominant players and making their prices look crazy and utterly unjust.”
She says that the big six – British Gas, EDF, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower and SSE – “are way off the money. We hope they will soon begin to pay the price for being both costly and dirty as more people see the light and switch to cheaper and greener deals.”
What about the customers?
The 680 or so residents who have so far signed up to Peterborough Energy include the city’s mayor, John Peach, who says he is saving £414 a year as a result of switching. Fellow resident Joyce Wheeler, who lives in the Orton area of the city, is saving £265. “This is the first time I have switched energy supplier, and I decided to do so after receiving a letter advertising Peterborough Energy in the post. I was also a little unhappy with my former supplier,” she says. “The saving is fantastic and will mean I can put the heating on a lot more this winter.”
Southend Energy’s 790 customers include Elise Thomas, 86, from Leigh-on-Sea, who rang up after reading about the venture in a leaflet in the council’s Outlook magazine. She was told she could save £437 a year by switching. “I had been with the same company for ages and ages – so long that I can’t remember the last time I switched, as it must have been over 20 years. They had been all right but their bills were massive.” She adds: “I think it’s very entrepreneurial of the council to do something like this.”


Full Guardian article can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/sep/26/lower-energy-bills-town-hall-local-authorities
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4 comments

  1. Thats really useful to know, will link to later when I do a blog post to get the word out there :-)
    ps could you add a blog followers button to your blog to make easier to follow :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dawn, Glad you're finding it useful. in response to your request, we've just added the followers button, is that the right one?
      all the best, Fast-SoS

      Delete
  2. We live in an apartment block in Perth, W. Australia. A few years ago our Council of Owners adopted a "money saving scheme", whereby they would purchase electricity for us collectively, and then bill each apartment for their individual use. Big savings were promised but didn't eventuate. Why not? Lots of people failed to pay their bills, and there is nothing much that the Council of Owners can do. Electricity Companies can cut off supply when they are in a direct relationship with bad payers, but this cannot happen when it is subcontracted.

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We are always glad to hear your comments, thoughts and opinions :)

Etsy

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