Cornwall gets together to revolutionise energy market
The people of Cornwall are uniting to launch a ground-breaking free collective purchasing scheme, called Cornwall Together, which aims to save Cornish households hundreds of pounds on their fuel bills, and reap huge social benefits for the Cornish community.
The revolutionary scheme, launched today at the Eden Project, by Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, will enable people across Cornwall to join together as a single powerful unit to negotiate cheaper energy bills - delivering Cornish households and businesses up to an estimated £3.7million worth of savings.
It is thought to be the first time an entire County has united as a community to buy energy more cheaply, enabling it to also tackle economic problems, encourage environmental sustainability, improve community resilience and people’s health and well-being.
Conceived by the Eden Project, Cornwall Together was originally pioneered by Cornwall Council, the NHS, Community Energy Plus and Community Buying UnLtd, aiming to bring people together to reduce fuel poverty, encourage sustainability and community resilience. They have been joined by delivery partners, community renewable energy platform, energyshare, and uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.
To reach the whole community and to make accessing the benefits as easy as possible it will be supported by some of Cornwall’s leading organisations and employers, Cornwall Council, the NHS, St. Austell Brewery, Unison and Community Energy Plus who will be promoting it to their staff.
Initially, Cornish residents will be invited to visit the Cornwall Together website, www.cornwalltogether.com, with a copy of their energy bill in hand. It’s FREE to use. On the site they will be able to register their details, become members and look forward to finding a cheaper deal for their energy needs. It is hoped more than 20,000 people may be able to reduce their energy bills by 10-15%. In other words Cornwall Together aims to bring financial benefits to a community of a similar size to Cornwall’s most populous town, St Austell.
Every home owner and private tenant who registers on the site will also get the opportunity to see if they can save even more money on their energy bills by securing a time limited offer on free loft and cavity insulation.
As part of Cornwall Together’s social purpose, it will invest 10 per cent of the revenue generated from each energy switch into a fund which will address fuel poverty. Cornwall Together will then seek match-funding from other organisations.
Cornwall Together will first negotiate for cheaper gas and electricity. It will then also negotiate for heating oil, to accommodate the significant number of people in Cornwall’s rural areas who aren’t on the mains gas grid.
Once the concept is proven, the initiative will be launched in other Counties as part of a National UKTogether campaign.
Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “Cornwall Together is breaking the mould in two ways. First, the extent of collaboration behind the scheme shows that it’s not just the usual suspects that can play an active part in the energy market. And second I applaud the explicit aim of extending the benefits of collective switching to the most vulnerable householders. I want clubbing together to buy and save energy to become commonplace, and am excited to see schemes like this setting an example for others up and down the country.”
Sir Tim Smit, Chief Executive, Development and Co-founder of the Eden Project, said: “Cornwall Together is born from a spirit of community. Saving money is important but the programme is also about bringing the people and businesses of Cornwall together. We hope to create more resilient communities and a deeper sense of togetherness as we negotiate as a powerful unit.”
Kevin Lavery, Chief Executive of Cornwall Council, said: “Our vision is for Cornwall to lead the UK and Europe in developing sustainable energy. When we started working with partners to develop the concept of Cornwall Together we could see its potential to communities in Cornwall together, to consider their energy usage more carefully and deliver real economic, social and health benefits.”
NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly’s Director of Public Health, Felicity Owen said: “What excites us about the Cornwall Together initiative is its community focus and the potential to reduce fuel poverty, which can lead to excess deaths in winter and contribute to other health conditions. We support Cornwall Together.”
Matt Hastings, the Eden Project’s award-winning Energy Manager and Project Director for Cornwall Together, said: “The idea of a whole of Cornwall joining forces to negotiate as a single unit is revolutionary. This is an exciting opportunity to unite Cornwall and reduce energy bills for tens of thousands of people. Cornish households spend around £1.2bn on energy per year, and we estimate potential savings of £3.7m could be made, most of which would likely be put back into the Cornish economy. ”
Lucy Darch, Director of Energy at uSwitch.com said: “Cornwall Together could be a complete game changer. Six in ten households have never switched and three quarters of people are sitting on old fashioned and expensive standard tariffs – a group purchasing scheme targeted at these people and giving them the support and confidence they need to switch could be the boost to competition and the local economy that’s needed. ”
To see if you can save money on your energy bill, join up at Cornwall Together by visiting www.cornwalltogether.com.