Nottingham city council has established an innovative new scheme to help cut energy bills.
It has set up a not-for-profit energy supplier, Robin Hood Energy; the council are hoping to attract 10,000 customers a month and purporting to save them each up to £237 a year on bills.
Since the energy market was nationalised in 1948, Nottingham council claim it is the first local authority owned energy firm to run on a not for profit basis; indeed, Robin Hood’s first customer is reputed to have saved an immediate £600 from their annual energy bill, after signing up on Monday.
So how does it work? The company will be supplying energy generated from the city’s incinerator, solar panels and waste food plants and also buy in gas and electricity from the market.
Nottingham city council’s portfolio holder for energy and sustainability, Alan Clark, states: “The UK’s domestic energy market has been hit with fluctuating government policies and subsidy cutbacks. In recent years, the cost of utility bills has spiralled as the profit-hungry ‘big six’ energy companies have exploited their monopoly. We have decided to take the bold step of setting up Robin Hood Energy so that energy can be provided to customers across Nottingham and beyond at the lowest possible price, run not for profit, but for people.”
He went on, poignantly, to point out: “Whatever money is saved should go back into the local economy.”
However, the service will not be limiting take up to those residing in Nottingham; it is legally obliged to accept customers nationwide.
Clark has been a councillor for 26 years and is also chairman of the council’s waste energy company, Enviro Energy. He commented that Robin Hood Energy would be paying “broadly competitive” salaries with no big bonuses for directors.
Whilst response from competitors has not yet transpired, it would certainly be a breakthrough if it encourages them to lower their prices.
However experts on the energy front claim that whilst Robin Hood have a competitive offering, it is not the best on the market, indicating there are others who offer better.
Nigel Cornwall of Cornwall Energy, an independent energy market consultant
says that Robin Hood Energy were able to buy on a market that is currently flat and it is therefore not all that difficult to “undercut the legacy players”.
It is expected that other local authorities will adopt similar schemes with other smaller energy companies.
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