Sarah Newton, Member of Parliament for Truro and Falmouth, last week welcomed representatives of the Cornish charity, Community Energy Plus, to the House of Commons to share their experiences of difficulties with the domestic heating oil market.
As the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Off-Grid Gas is currently carrying out an inquiry into the heating oil price rises and seeing if anything can be done to protect consumers and make the market work more efficiently, Sarah invited Community Energy Plus to give evidence and explain the feedback that they have had from both oil suppliers and customers.
Community Energy Plus is a charity and social enterprise that help communities and businesses to reduce their energy costs by helping them to reduce their energy usage. In addition, Community Energy Plus has established the Community Energy Club whereby people are together to form community groups which enable them to buy domestic heating oil in bulk. This means that they can then benefit from cheaper prices as well as fewer, but more regular, deliveries.
The membership of the Club is free and the costs of administering it are taken from the oil suppliers themselves at a rate of 1p per litre purchased. Even with this charge being levied, Community Energy Plus believes that members could still save up to £85 per year.
Community Energy Plus has also entered into the ‘Buy Better Together Challenge’ which was launched earlier this year by Co-operatives UK and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to encourage more people to think collectively and combine their buying power. 110 applications were received and Community Energy Plus has been success in making the final seven to be shortlisted for the final award.
Nicola McCheyne, Project Delivery Team Manager at Community Energy Plus, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for the challenge. Community Energy Club was developed to empower our society’s most vulnerable householders, and ensure that everyone can access competitively priced heating oil. The opportunity to develop this into a robust business plan is very exciting.”
Speaking after the APPG meeting, Sarah said: “I am so pleased that Community Energy Plus have been able to come here and share their experiences of the difficulties that customers face when purchasing off-grid energy. Organisations like Community Energy Plus are uniquely placed to provide real help to their communities and advise MPs how we can help to shape policy for heating oil customers.
“I am delighted that Community Energy Plus have made the final shortlist for the Buy Better Together Challenge. This is a testament to their dedication to their customers and I wish them every success.”