New green energy deal to help ease fuel poverty

An Edinburgh-based ethical energy firm is launching a new green power deal that allows customers to help the four million households across the UK facing the stark choice of whether to heat their home or eat.

Our Power customer Sheena MacVicar and founding chief executive Dawn Muspratt. Picture: Chris James

The new UK-wide tariff, on offer from not-for-profit company Our Power, is not the cheapest rate available but it is still competitive, potentially saving customers £80 a year on bills.

At the same time it will cut costs for people who are struggling to pay for power, allowing them to heat their homes for an average of 54 more days a year than they could on a standard variable tariff from the Big Six energy providers.

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All energy supplied through the +Impact tariff comes from 100 per cent renewable sources, including community energy providers.

For every home that signs up, Our Power can offer cheaper prices to a lower income or fuel-poor household.

Any additional profits will be invested in communities across the UK through the setting up of special Our Power customer service hubs, which will offer new jobs and training opportunities.

A household is considered to be fuel-poor when the cost of fuelling and heating the home to an adequate standard of warmth costs more than 10 per cent of total income.

UK government figures show 4.5 million households, 17 per cent of the total, are living in fuel poverty.

The situation is even worse in Scotland, with 26.5 per cent of households struggling to afford energy.

Our Power, established in 2016, is owned by social housing providers, community organisations and local authorities. Its tariffs are available to everyone, regardless of how they pay.

Founding chief executive Dawn Muspratt says the company’s aim is to eliminate the discrimination faced by the least well-off members of society, who can be charged as much as 25 per cent more for power than those with access to the cheapest deals.

“The reality is that the people in the worst circumstances pay the most,” she said.

“Our goal is to reduce and eradicate this ‘poverty premium’. It’s our job to get the lowest price we can for the energy and pass that on to customers.

“Fuel poverty is a real issue for around four million households in the UK.

“With +Impact we aim to change this and challenge the status quo.

“Our new tariff is competitively priced and those who switch will save around £80 per year.

“More importantly, for every home that switches to the +Impact tariff, Our Power can help to bring energy costs down for families living in, or at risk of, fuel poverty.

“It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Pensioners Sheena and Robert MacVicar, housing association tenants living in Douglas, Lanarkshire, switched to Our Power last year.

The move has seen their electricity charges slashed in half.

Mrs Macvicar said: “We were really struggling with our energy bills and the cost was only ever going up.

“When we heard about Our Power and that it was possible to switch to a cheaper supplier we jumped at the chance.

“The entire switching process was easier than I thought it would be – it was quick and simple.”

Our Power also has plans to begin generating its own green power in the next few months.