Last Monday the Co-operative officially launched against the ‘Big Six’ power suppliers, promising that renewables will play an “important” part in the energy it supplies to its customers.
As it threw down the gauntlet to the six major utility retailers to introduce a “fairer” deal for customers, Co-operative Energy also pledged that the carbon content of its electricity would be “less than half the national average” by April 2012.
“We aim to be a significant player in the industry, not to operate on the fringes,” said Nigel Mason, business development manager, Co-operative Energy. “That means taking a holistic approach, [but] renewables will be important.”
During a pilot phase, Co-operative Energy has been supplying only renewable energy to its customers, but Mason acknowledged that going forward nuclear and other low carbon power, as well as gas, would also likely be part of the mix.
“We need to have the flexibility to source from different types of technologies. That’s why we are not using the term ‘green’, but the phrase ‘low carbon’,” said Mason. He said the exact level of renewable energy supplied would depend on customer sign-ups, but that the company was looking to sign-up hundreds of thousands of customers.
“We want to be one of the ‘Big Seven’,” he said.
Unlike, the ‘Big Six’, which have been accused by the energy regulator Ofgem of adjusting prices unfairly, the Co-operative has promised to introduce a new simple tariff and single unit price. It has also said it will offer a twice-yearly profit sharing deal for all Co-operative Energy customers, who own the business.
“It’s time this industry had a radical shake up. Customers have been bamboozled by complicated tariffs and confused by changing prices and unfair contracts, and it has to stop,” said Mason.
The launch of Co-operative Energy follows a call by Ofgem for the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers to sell off up to 20 per cent of their electricity generation output or face the Competition Commission. Energy regulator Ofgem is proposing the auction as part of a radical overhaul it says is necessary to secure the massive investment required over the next decade to secure Britain’s energy supplies and combat climate change.
The reforms, said Ofgem, would “force open” the electricity market and make it easier for new players to enter, at the same time as make the ‘Big Six’ simplify their tariffs so consumers could compare prices more easily.