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BaNES offers green energy deal to West Wiltshire residents

June 29, 2018 8:08 PM

Two new energy tariffs were launched this week offering a choice of green and affordable deals by supplier Our Power supported by Bath and North East Somerset Council and Bath & West Community Energy.

The new scheme, called Our Power In B&NES, offers locally-generated renewable energy to residents through a collaboration with not-for-profit energy supplier Our Power and local community business Bath & West Community Energy.

Residents with some Bradford, Trowbridge or Corsham postcodes can also join the scheme.

The 'Our Local Green Energy' tariff will provide 100% renewable electricity as part of a dual fuel offer with gas. Electricity will be locally sourced and community owned wherever possible, using green energy from Bath & North East Somerset and the surrounding area. This will enable residents to buy from local community owned solar energy arrays in B&NES for the first time.

The scheme will also include the 'Our Fairer Energy' tariff from Our Power, which is currently one of the cheapest tariffs available on the market for dual fuel pre-payment meter customers.

BaNES council is endorsing this scheme because it contributes to tackling fuel poverty and supporting renewable energy.

Our Power was one of the first not-for-profit energy suppliers in the UK, and was founded by housing associations, community organisations and local authorities with the aim of making energy fairer and greener.

Our Power will be working with Bath & West Community Energy which will support with community marketing and whose local community owned renewable energy generation projects will be among the first to power the scheme.

Dawn Muspratt, CEO of Our Power, said: "We are really excited to be working with Bath &North East Somerset Council, and as an energy supplier with a mission to make household energy more affordable and greener for all energy customers, we have a very close fit with what B&NES Council wants to offer its residents. Our Power's not-for-profit status also means that profits can be reinvested to benefit our customers and their communities."

Pete Capener, Managing Director of Bath & West Community Energy, said: "We have always wanted local people to be able to benefit from the renewable energy that Bath & West Community Energy's projects generate - it's the reason we set BWCE up. We hope this scheme will increase support for local renewables projects and the community benefit that they create."

Martin Shields, Corporate Director at Bath & North East Somerset Council, added: "This scheme is great news for the environment, our local economy and for households living with pre-payment meters. It is in line with the Council's Core Strategy district target to deliver 275MW local renewable energy generation in the district by 2029."

Residents can sign up at https://our-power.co.uk/bathnes or by calling Our Power on 0808 189 3085.

End notes:

  • Energy supplier Our Power is an independent energy supply company with a mission to make energy supply fairer and more affordable. It is owned by social housing providers, community organisations and local authorities, and was the first energy supplier to be set up to operate on a non-profit distribution basis in the UK. Its not-for-profit status means that any surplus generated by the business is reinvested in its customers and in keeping their bills as low as possible.
  • Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) is a not for profit community business set up in 2010 to deliver clean local energy, community owned for the common good. BWCE is one of the leading community organisations in the energy sector, with 12.35 MW of community owned solar PV and hydro capacity. To date BWCE has distributed £145,000 of its cash surplus in grants to local community projects tackling carbon emissions and fuel poverty.
  • Our Local Green Energy is a local, variable rate tariff which comprises 100% renewable electricity, the majority of which is locally sourced from generators in and surrounding the B&NES district. The renewable generation schemes will also be community owned wherever possible, which helps maximise the value retained in the local economy. The initial community schemes providing power under the tariff will include Bath & West Community Energy's Stowey Farm and Wilmington Farm solar arrays, which together have a maximum output of 2.6 MW and generate enough electricity to match the equivalent annual demand from approximately 800 typical households[1]. By 'buying local' residents can demonstrate support for local renewables and help to make local renewable energy more viable in the future. In the longer term Our Power will seek to secure power purchase agreements with other local renewable generators within the B&NES district, as customer numbers grow and the increased supply can be justified by demand.
  • Our Fairer Energy is a low-cost variable rate tariff, which for pre-payment customers using dual fuel (gas and electricity) is currently one of the cheapest tariffs available on the market. Switching to Our Fairer Energy could save pre-payment customers up to £130/yr[2]. Its electricity is sourced nationally from a mix of generators in order to make energy more affordable for residents. Because the tariff has one single rate regardless of payment type, customers can switch easily between Pay As You Go and Direct Debit payment options, and the absence of the need for a credit check enables the tariff to be available to more people. Our Power's smart meters are one of the best available, and offer 'friendly credit' for pre-payment customers (meaning emergency credit is always available at evenings and weekends) as well as a range of flexible ways to top up.
  • Both tariffs are based on a single, variable rate, which Our Power aims not to vary within a 12 month period (in line with its mission to make energy fairer and more affordable). This avoids the complexity of fixed rate deals, and the associated problem of customers being defaulted onto a standard variable rate at the end of a fixed rate period, and experiencing a sudden price hike which they are often not aware of. Ofgem recently found that around 54% of customers with the six largest energy suppliers were on a default standard variable tariff (paying between £60 and £220/yr more than those suppliers' cheapest fixed rates), and concluded that these tariffs offered a poor deal[3]. In B&NES it is likely that around 25,000 households are on a standard variable tariff with one of the largest six energy suppliers[4]. Our Power's approach of offering a single, low cost variable rate from the outset means there is never a need to switch, because customers are always on their lowest rate.
  • Both tariffs benefit from no exit fees and Our Power's not for profit status means any surplus is reinvested in keeping bills as low as possible.
  • The Our Power In B&NES scheme has a long term vision to address a number of Council priorities including increasing local renewable energy generation, supporting local economic development and tackling fuel poverty. The scheme creates a platform for future innovation to support these objectives and to help the district transition to a low carbon economy with a smart, low carbon electricity infrastructure.

[1] Based on figures by Ofgem: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/gas/retail-market/monitoring-data-and-statistics/typical-domestic-consumption-values

[2] This is the current differential between the Government's pre-payment meter price cap (i.e. the most expensive pre-payment meter tariffs available) and Our Power's Fairer Energy tariff for dual fuel customers, based on average household consumption.

[3] https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/standard-variable-tariffs-latest-trends-september-2017

[4] Using local data from B&NES Council's Voicebox 26 survey which suggests that 56% of B&NES households are currently with one of the largest six energy suppliers.