Hampshire residents set to benefit in 'big switch' to drive down energy bills
Tuesday, 08 January 2013
Councils across Hampshire are joining forces in a bid to help residents across Hampshire benefit from greater savings on their gas and electricity bills.
The County Council is working with other local authorities across Hampshire to set up a 'collective energy switching service' which will enable gas and electricity consumers in the county to combine their purchasing power and get a better deal on their bills.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: "This is good news for households across the county since it will mean that people who register for the scheme will possibly be able to get their gas and/or electricity at much cheaper rates than if they were buying either service as an individual customer.
"For instance, there are approximately 760,000 households in Hampshire. If two per cent sign up to switch energy supplier through our collective energy switching service, this would give a combined purchasing power of just over 15,000 customers, enabling the negotiation of greater discounts on their behalf. Clearly, the more people who sign up, the more negotiating power we will have - so it is vital as many people as possible register for the scheme.
"Being able to access cheaper energy has the potential to bring significant benefits to those on low incomes, the elderly and families in fuel poverty which in turn should have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.
"It will also give an opportunity for greater savings to be made by those who rely on electricity alone for heating and cooking because they cannot be connected to a mains gas supply.
"Typically customers could save in the region of £60 to £200 on their energy bills by participation in collective switching. Running an energy switching scheme three times a year could lead to potential savings of up to £25 million for Hampshire residents."
To get the scheme up and running, the County Council, on behalf of the other Hampshire local authorities, is proposing to contract an intermediary organisation to manage the collective switching process. A decision on this is to be taken on 22 January 2013 at the Executive Member for Environment and Transport Decision Day. If agreed, the organisation under contract would be responsible for registering consumers, negotiating with energy companies to secure the best deal for householders and arranging the switch for each individual customer. There would be no charges to the customer or any council tax payer for this service, since the organisation's payment would come from a referral fee paid to the organisation by the energy supplier.
More details about the scheme and how people can register will be announced at the beginning of April 2013, subject to the agreement (on 22 January) to contract an agency to undertake the energy switching work, and the tender process leading to the appointment of a contractor with the required expertise, skills and resources.
Nationally, collective energy switching is supported strongly by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Local Government Association and consumer groups including Consumer Focus.