On Monday, 27 October, Fuel Poverty Action launched their Energy Bill of Rights in Parliament to the acclaim of MPs and community groups.
BHESCo have pledged our support for the bill which campaigns for an affordable renewable energy system owned by the community, read the blog post on our website.
The launch in Parliament will be a chance for people to share their stories of when their rights to energy have been violated, listen to others stories’, share victories, and talk together about how we can put the Energy Bill of Rights into practice. BHESCo spoke about the important contribution that Community Energy Groups can make to securing a safe, clean and secure energy future, reviewing all the different options available for energy generation, inlcuding wind, solar, biomass, biofuels, tidal and wave energy.
Please contact your MP to support Early Day Motion number 395 that was put forward by Caroline Lucas, our local MP.
Last year BHESCo helped an elderly gentleman on a prepayment meter switch energy suppliers. Unfortunately he has been the victim of shockingly unacceptable customer care in the way that his energy supplier handled his account, read on…
What was the switching problem?
This gentleman, aged 75, moved to his new flat in Hove in June 2013. The existing supply was British Gas so for simplicity, he just set up an account with them. The relationship did not start well as the first letter he received, welcoming him to British Gas, had no detail of his tariff or contract conditions for his prepayment meter.
He tried to get his tariff information by making numerous lengthy phone calls which were often fruitless and frustrating. Afterwards he continued to receive correspondence with his name spelt incorrectly and still no details of their tariffs for electricity and gas in larger print.
Correspondence was then received in August 2013, addressed to Brighton and Hove City Council, with a different customer number from the first letter sent, which warned there was a risk of disconnection. The bill was also for incorrect dates. As a vulnerable customer, he was very concerned about this which was exacerbated when in October he received yet more correspondence with new customer references numbers, informing him that his gas price was being increased, yet he still had not been told his tariff.
Finally in December 2013, he received a bill. The details were in small print although he had requested large print, so he was unable to read the paperwork. At this point he sought the help of Brighton Housing Trust. Following this contact, large print copies were received and he finally found out what tariff he was on.
At that point he decided to switch suppliers to Ecotricity. This switch was blocked by British Gas because, according to their records, the gas supply was blocked, although the customer was using gas provided by them to heat his home.
How was it resolved?
Unfortunately, further problems were experienced until July 2014, when the energy supply was transferred to Ecotricity. Ecotricity assisted with the switch, by investigating the problem and informing British Gas that the records held by the National Grid were incorrect. The customer has demanded compensation for the amount of time that was spent in sorting out his fuel supply problems.
Listen up British Gas!
Treating an elderly customer in this way is unacceptable. For problems to continually occur, shows a lack of concern for customer care. It is the customers right to know what tariff they are on, to receive a bill that they can read and to be able to switch energy supplier to obtain a better tariff.
Last week The Argus reported on the rise of community energy groups in Sussex; there are not over 6,000 community energy groups across the UK. The Sussex groups, which have come together in an umbrella group called Community Energy South, are working to reduce the number of people in fuel poverty and develop renewable energy projects, across the region.
Community Energy South led a series of free events, Powering Our Communities, in September 2014 which provided information for community groups, parishes, local authorities, individuals and businesses on developing low carbon, energy efficient communities. Ovesco and BHESCo were both present to give advice and information to visitors as well as rallying support and encouraging new communities to get involved in the community energy movement.
Three schools were also present, Ringmer Community College, The Priory School and Chailey School, who each received £250 and were asked to come up and present their ideas on how they could use the funding to become even more environmentally friendly. This exercise was carried out in order to give children the opportunity to think about energy challenges.
18 Sep 2014
Howard Johns, solar energy pioneer, will be the keynote speaker sharing insights from his forthcoming book on community energy: “Energy Revolution: Your Guide to Making it Happen”.
Howard in considered to be one of the UK’s top renewable energy gurus and is Managing Director of Southern Solar, former Chairman of the Solar Trade Association, and co-founder of OVESCO, the first community owned solar PV schemes in the country, sited on the roof of Harvey’s Brewery.
To view the agenda for the event click here.
Kayla will be discussing the topic of community fuel tariffs and the benefits of these in the region.
This event has been organised to showcase local community energy initiatives, encouraging new groups to take up community energy, scaling up our low carbon future and making local green growth jobs.
This free event is part of a series of events focussed on providing information for community groups, parishes, local authorities, individuals and businesses who want to know more about developing a low carbon, energy efficient community and learn from communities who are doing just that. Existing groups will showcase the growth of community energy and debate the future growth of the industry in our region.
These half day conferences will provide opportunities to meet local energy champions. Lunch will be provided. To confirm your attendance, please register here.