Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 17:00

Pioneering collective-buying organisation Cornwall Together is launching a second round boosted by a grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

DECC has just announced an award of £895,000 to the Eden Project to run the second phase of Cornwall Together as part of the department’s Cheaper Energy Together competition.

The funding will enable Cornwall Together to more actively engage with people who need most help with reducing their energy bills.

Cornwall Together aims to unite the people of the county to negotiate their energy bills as a large group, securing lower prices for everyone.

Cornwall Together will continue to invest 10 per cent of the revenue generated from each energy switch into a fund which will address fuel poverty in Cornwall.

Matt Hastings, Cornwall Together project manager, said: “We are very excited to have won this DECC grant which will help Cornwall Together unite people in our county and hopefully secure significant energy savings.

“Winning this competition will enable us to improve the level of awareness, especially among groups who have traditionally been hard to reach. We will also change the joining process with prospective members now able to see the savings they stand to make before they get involved. This is a very exciting time for Cornwall!”

People can register their interest in the second round of Cornwall Together now by visiting Switches will be made from February 18 with the round closing in the middle of March.

Cornwall Together is one of four regional collective energy-buying projects that has won funding under the banner of UK Together, the national buying group that came out of Cornwall. The other projects are in Birmingham and Solihull, South East Scotland and Exeter.

Negotiation with energy companies will now be conducted on behalf of a national group, greatly increasing buying power and hopefully leading to bigger savings.

Energy Secretary Edward Davey said: "We need to find new ways to help people with their energy bills, working with communities and councils across the country.

“The projects we are funding will help people save energy and save money: helping the most vulnerable to heat their homes, getting the Green Deal market up and running and encouraging people to switch energy suppliers to get their bills down.”

Nearly 10,000 people joined Cornwall Together in the first round and those who switched to new suppliers made an average saving of £133. Some households saved as much as £700 on their annual bill. The group aims to reach out to the whole Cornish population, significantly increasing the membership base and financial savings from the first round where more than £150,000 of savings were delivered to the people of Cornwall.

Conceived by the Eden Project, Cornwall Together was developed by Eden, Cornwall Council, the NHS and Community Energy Plus, aiming to bring people together to reduce fuel poverty, encourage sustainability and community resilience.

They were joined by delivery partners energy platform, energyshare, and, the independent price comparison and switching service.

Cornwall Together is supported by some of Cornwall’s leading organisations and employers, Cornwall Council, the NHS, St. Austell Brewery, Unison, Locality, CAB Cornwall, Age UK Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Warrens Bakery, Cornwall Housing, Ocean Housing, Volunteer Cornwall, Landlords Associations and Community Energy Plus who will be promoting it to their staff and members.

Cheaper Energy Together was a competition offering a share of £5million to local authority and third sector organisations in Great Britain to help set up collective purchasing of energy in their local areas, and also encourage residents to work together to switch energy supplier and get a better tariff.

The aim of this scheme is to encourage consumers to group together and use market power to negotiate lower energy bills and save money.  This competition was heavily oversubscribed as DECC received 114 bids requesting £14.8 million of funding.  Money has been awarded to 31 successful projects, covering over 94 local councils and eight third sector organisations in Great Britain.