energybillof-rightFuel Poverty Action (FPA), is a grassroots campaign made of up a group of ordinary people who have had enough of the for-profit, fossil fuel based energy system dominated by the Big Six and are fighting to give the power back to communities.

By applying pressure to energy companies and politicians, FPA campaigns for warm, well insulated homes and clean, affordable energy that meet the needs of the community. FPA represents those who are fed up with being robbed by greedy energy companies through spiralling bills, rip-off prepayment meters and soaring profits.

In the winter of 2012, 30,000 people died of winter cold in the UK.  According to Age UK, 90% of these deaths were people over 60 years old.  Fuel poverty, occurs when people can’t afford to heat their homes. This can be related to the hardship that the older generation suffered during the war, so they try endure the cold winter temperatures which creates deadly health problems.  Millions more people have struggled to find the money to pay bills or top up prepayment meters. Rising prices are putting millions of people in fuel debt meaning they cannot switch supplier to get a lower tariff, or were forced to have prepayment meters installed in their property at their own cost.  The spiral effect of continued higher than necessary prices has a huge impact on the fuel poor.  As a result millions of people will worry about they are going to heat their homes this winter.

In response the FPA have developed the Energy Bills of Rights, an eight point list outlining the rights of us all, in regard to energy and living in a warm, comfortable home. The Energy Bill of Rights aims to give everyone confidence to fight for a fairer, affordable, sustainable energy system owned by us, not by foreign corporations. FPA will support collection action to demand for their rights, through sharing knowledge and organising events. The FPA are encouraging as many individuals and organisations as possible to sign up and show support for the bill and ditching the Big Six, a movement which BHESCo positively supports.

Read the Energy Bills of Rights and the energy mini-guide ( from FPA, which has been developed to provide advice for those struggling with energy bills.

BHESCo has shown support for the Energy Bill of Rights through the following statement:

Large energy suppliers, many of which are foreign owned,  dominate the market and reap unjust profits, by exploiting vulnerable or uninformed people. Home owners, tenants, landlords and business across the country must make properties more energy efficient, more comfortable places to live and work, and to supply affordable heating in their properties. BHESCo is committed to helping to combat fuel poverty in the community of Brighton & Hove, reducing energy usage and bills, making homes and businesses more energy efficient and generating energy from clean, renewable sources. We along with other social enterprises in our industry recognise that this is the most economically beneficial alternative which is why we wholeheartedly support Fuel Poverty Action’s Energy Bill of Rights. We will help bring about community action, community generation and control to individuals to ensure a secure, sustainable and clean energy future.  We are working to introduce our own community energy tariff to help protect our community from paying too much for their electricity and heating.

The autumn statement was released with grand plans for reducing our energy bills by transferring the energy company’s obligation (ECO) to the taxpayer. Energy companies have succeeded in lowering their liability to finance the cost of providing insulation, new boilers and draught-proofing for struggling families and vulnerable people in communities across the country.

Old-age-pensioner-keeps-warm-with-the-aid-of-an-electric-heater-2561284The question is whether this important support for the fuel poor and vulnerable people now considered to be too expensive will be reduced. Last year, 30,000 people died from winter cold related illness, one of the highest levels in Europe. Taxpayers will be financing shale gas extraction (fracking) that will be offset by less support for solar generated electricity and onshore wind. The net result is not beneficial to the taxpayer, nor to the energy consumer, creating less value for money from an economic standpoint.

The claim is that too much of the energy cost is spent on environmental measures. In fact all environmental charges comprise 9% of the average household energy bill of £1,350. These charges are for various services, including support for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Energy companies do not have a track record of success in rolling out programmes like the ECO on a government mandate. ECO replaced CERT and CESP, which were not considered successful programmes because the energy suppliers didn’t meet the government’s targets. Lots of money has been poured into ECO with little result. It’s just counterintuitive that a company whose obligation is to maximize profits for their shareholders is going to invest its resources in lowering its sales volumes by proactively investing in energy savings.

The taxpayer will not benefit from investments in shale gas extraction, for which many professionals predict will not bring down energy prices. We must focus our attention on making the infrastructural investments in the distribution network, including battery storage, and in distributed low cost generation like solar electricity and onshore wind bringing longer term value to our communities.

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