The truth about Smart Meters

With promises of reduced energy costs and better energy tracking, Smart Meters are a hot topic in the energy industry. But as with all new technology, not everyone is convinced. So, let’s look at the truth about Smart Meters.

 

What is a Smart Meter?

Compared to regular ones, Smart Meters automatically send meter readings to your energy supplier and – with the In-home Device (IHD) – allow you to track spend in real time.

 

Are they a new thing?

Well, in the UK our roll-out has just begun, which is one of the reasons for the intense media coverage. However, smart meters are not a new concept. Many countries globally have had Smart Meters for years – like in Brazil or the US. In fact, by the end of 2017, more than half of US electricity customers had a smart meter installed. We are merely following a trend that has been proven to be a success elsewhere. At the moment, many European countries are in the middle of a roll-out – such as Austria, Denmark, France and Spain – whilst Italy, Finland and Sweden have already completed their roll-outs.

 

Why get one?

The main benefit of a Smart Meter for customers is that it will enable you to save money. By being aware of what you are using, you can stay on top of your usage and address any inefficiencies at your property. Another benefit will be that the dreaded ‘Estimated Bill’ will be a thing of the past, meaning you really will only pay for the energy you use. The result of this is better billing, but also no need to scrabble about under the stairs or in the cupboard for your meter readings. For those who are environmentally conscious, you’ll be pleased to know that by controlling your usage, you will be making a positive difference to the environment.

 

Why so much bad press?

To start with, the project went over budget, which is never the best way to start. There have also been campaigns relating to health, privacy and reports stating that Smart Meters will make customers pay more on their bills, not less. None of these things can be 100% proven one way or the other, but all can be put into context.

Starting with health, many people believe that having a smart meter in your home exposes you to high levels of radiation – leading to headaches, dizziness and even cancer. Whilst many devices do emit radiation, the risk is relatively low. One thing we can be sure of is that a Smart Meter emits less harmful radiation than a mobile phone which sits in our pocket 24/7.

Having recording devices in our homes can rightfully raise the question; what happens to my data? With comparisons to the Alexa device (and all the bad press that comes with it) the feeling that Smart Meters provide a privacy breach has gathered pace. However,

Smart Meters transmit energy consumption data once a day and contain no more information than a current meter. Data is not individualised and cannot be sold on to third parties without active prior consent by the household. The industry body Smart Energy GB takes a similar line. “Your smart meter stores and transmits simple information on how much energy your home has used. Personal details like your name, address and bank account details are not stored on or transmitted by the meter. Your supplier can’t use any data from your smart meter for sales and marketing purposes unless you give them permission to do so.” While Smart Meters are more accurate, GDPR and privacy policies ensure that your data is always protected. For more information on this, click here.

Some fear that by not having a Smart Meter, their energy supplier will discriminate against them and not offer the cheapest deals. We cannot talk for all suppliers, but at Solarplicity we will ensure this is not the case. We want to champion the Smart Meter idea and we currently offer a discount for all our SMART Fixed customers because we want to incentivise our customers to consider having one. However, at present our next cheapest deal is only £25.50 per year more expensive, and other discounts are available if you are dual fuel.

 

What does the future look like?

Smart Meters represent the start of a smarter, cleaner energy system in the UK. With one installed at your home, you can create a “Smart Home” to whichever degree suits you. Automatic lighting and device control will soon become the norm. However, for now we should all be pleased that estimated meter readings and inaccurate bills are things that we won’t encounter again.

 

How do I get a Smart Meter?

It’s simple. If you’re an existing customer, we will install your Smart Meter for free. You can book your installation by calling us on 0330 0586 022 or emailing on smart@solarplicity.com

If you are not currently a Solarplicity customer, you can get a quote here and then book your free smart meter installation.

Broken heels, glass straws and planning for the next generation….an afternoon with British snowboarder Katie Ormerod.

 

We were joined by snowboarder and green ambassador Katie Ormerod at Solarplicity HQ last week. She told us all about her injury that denied her a childhood dream, her road to recovery and her new passion for protecting the environment.

Hey Katie, great to see you again! Last time we were in the same room you were days away from setting off for the Winter Olympics…

Yes! Time flies…

Indeed. It is safe to say you have not had the best of times since then. What happened!?

(Laughs) Well I was at the Olympics in Korea and it was all going really well and then on the first training day with 30 minutes to go I just slipped off the end of a rail doing a basic trick. It wasn’t a big deal but I chipped a bone in my wrist. I just put it in a splint and got some pain killers and kept going. And then a day later, I slipped again on the same rail…for some reason everything was against me! This time I broke my heel into two pieces and I couldn’t compete in the games.

Ouch! I’ve never heard of anyone breaking their heel before..

I couldn’t believe it is one of the hardest bones to break and I did it. Usually people break it when they fall from a height and it shatters, but mine broke so cleanly, straight into two pieces – so they just put two pins in it.

Wow, so it was kind of lucky in a way?

Not really! I then had to have emergency surgery and I was in hospital for 8 days in Korea. But they flew me back home because – and this is pretty disgusting – the way it broke should have really broken through the skin, but because it didn’t, it killed the skin from the inside out. So, I had to have four more skin surgeries and skin grafts.

That sounds terrible, and didn’t you break your back previously?

Yeah last year, I broke my back but that was fine. It was nothing, it was like a paper cut compared to breaking my heel.

I’m sure it was….well enough of broken bones, when are you aiming to snowboard again?

With my recovery at the minute I am past the hardest parts so I’m just focusing on getting as strong as I can, I’m in the gym 3 to 4 times a week having physio and going in the pool. So, I think I’m definitely on track to be snowboarding in October and I should be stronger than I was before, so I should get all my tricks back really quick within a few weeks and then hopefully I can start competing again as soon as possible, and then hopefully I can get back to winning medals sooner rather than later.

Medals aren’t your only aim, you also have some goals outside of the sport involving the environment?

Ah yes, I really want to improve my carbon footprint, be greener in general and show people that with lots of small changes we can all make a difference.

What has brought this on, were you always environmentally conscious?

A bit yeah.  When I started travelling with the British team when I was 14, travelling the world and a living with the team who were mostly older than me, I noticed that they were conscious about the environment. Even little things like leaving the door of the fridge open too much would really annoy them so I think that’s been ingrained in me to do things, the little things, that make a big difference….or I’d get in trouble!

Right yes, so you were educated by living with others who lived by certain rules. Do you think that is the way we can all make changes to our lifestyle?

That, and perhaps a lack of knowledge for the consequences. I think if people understood more about the consequences, and if you just turn the lights off, how big an impact that would make so yeah I think. I think even those who know it can be lazy too, and not make the steps to change their habits. In my case, luckily things like shutting the fridge door, turning the lights out, and using reusable bags was drilled into me from an early age.

So you never forget your shopping bags then?

Sometimes (laughs). But when I do I just walk with my arms full of shopping.

Fair enough. So aside from the little things, what else about the environment catches your attention?

Obviously the plastic we use every day is in the news quite a lot. Seeing the plastic washed up on beaches is really awful and I hope people have started to realise the problem. We are being too careless. A big gripe for me is plastic straws. For a few years now I have been buying glass straws. It’s a win-win really as you can just use them over and over again and it’s not harming the environment. They are also so much easier to use than plastic ones so really can’t see a downside.

What is driving you to keep improving this in yourself?

As a snowboarder, obviously it is important that we have snow in the mountains to compete. I started to worry about my sport and the future of it. No snow means no snowboarding, so we all need to do something about it now.

Are you able to see the difference in snowfall since you’ve been a pro?

Definitely. For 5 straight years I was in the same resort in U.S, at the same time of the year. The change in the amount of snow was amazing. I think in the third year they even had to delay opening the resort because they just had no snow at all. It was a big eye opener for me, I guess when it disrupts what you are doing you are more likely to notice.

Right before the Olympics you did an event with some young locals, teaching them to snowboard but also making them aware of renewable energy. How important is it to teach the next generations about this?

Huge, definitely. I think I became aware at around 13 and I think the younger you learn, the better and more natural it will be for you. If you grow up and things like renewable energy and recycling are automatic, then the world is just going to be so much better. Hopefully, for the next generation it will be like that. However, our generation still needs to learn and adopt new habits so we can pass this on.

So alongside your recovery from injury and medal quest, you also want to save the planet?

(Laughs) Yes, well I am only one person and I know it’s a big task for the entire world, but we need to feel empowered to make a difference. My recovery from injury has inspired this even further, as each rehab session is a small part of the overall goal to be back on my board again. The same idea can be applied to helping the planet; lots of little things can achieve the overall aim if we understand their importance.

Check out Katie’s journey via her social media accounts: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

To our customers: An apology

To our customers

We recognise that there has been a drop in our customer service performance over the last few weeks. We acknowledge that our service levels have fallen below the expectations of both the company and our customers. We would like to explain what has happened and what we are doing to fix things.

Several months ago, we embarked on a project to upgrade our IT system to improve customer service and also to be ready for our smart meter roll out. Unfortunately, the upgrade has resulted in a number of issues which have affected billing and meter readings.

At the same time, we have also had much higher call levels from people booking their smart meter installation, which we are really excited to finally have launched.

These two things have meant that a lot of people have called and emailed us leading to call waiting and email response times being unacceptably high. We recognise that this is incredibly frustrating for you, as it is for us. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience we have caused if you were unable to get through, had to wait a long time to speak to an advisor or didn’t receive a written response.

We care about this, so this is what we have done about it:

· We have fixed the core IT problems. Billing, meter readings and communications should all be back to normal and you should now be able to use your online account. We will also be enabling our online payment soon.

· We have hired more customer service staff.

· Every member of our staff is taking responsibility for making sure that if you need to contact us, you are looked after. They are all becoming Customer Champions.

Over the next 4 weeks, each customer will be allocated a Solarplicity employee who will be directly responsible for assisting in any way needed. This service will continue until our additional customer service teams are fully trained and able to provide the service our customers deserve.

Once again, we wish to offer our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused during this period. We do care about our customers; your loyalty is everything to us and it hurts to know that some of you have had a bad experience. Our ambition is to give our customers the best possible service, and we will do everything in our power to achieve this.

Yours Faithfully,

David Elbourne

CEO

Snow making you blue? Go green

With extreme snowfall in the UK at the moment, we’re seeing evidence of climate change yet again. Climate change and global warming do not just mean hotter temperatures, but greater periods of precipitation – such as snow.

So, there’s no better time to adopt a greener lifestyle…

Truth be told, it isn’t easy being green. We all try our best, but there always seems to be so many hurdles. We’ve all thrown an empty plastic packet in the bin and instantly realised it could’ve been recycled. At times, it feels like everything we own needs charging. And everywhere you go, people try to sell you something, wrapped in plastic, that needs charging!

However, the world – and people’s habits – are changing. With industries now responding to the more conscious consumer, it’s easier than ever to cut down our carbon calorie count. To help, we’ve listed some tips below on how we can all be a little bit greener.

 

1) Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

You’ve probably heard this phrase a lot, but it remains a cornerstone of battling the mountains of waste we all produce. Reducing the plethora of plastic we buy is a hugely important, as this is slowly polluting all pockets of the planet.

Luckily, there are many businesses now dedicated to producing goods made solely from recycled materials. From jewellery and jugs, to Tupperware and toilet paper, alternatives are out there if we look hard enough. Some great examples can be found on Etsy, where you can buy and sell homemade goods and creations online.

And of course, making the everyday effort with our household recycling really does make a difference.

 

2) Use Technology

Everything we buy has a carbon footprint; some bigger than others, but are we aware of the emissions that each product we buy has produced? Well, now you can be – with smartphone apps like GoodGuide, which allows you to track the product’s carbon footprint via a barcode, or Commute Greener, which enables you to select the greenest way to arrive at work.

 

3) Buy Second Hand

Nowadays, there are loads of apps for buying, selling and sharing things locally. If you need a one-off item, the chances are someone somewhere has it – check out Olio, Streetbank or Freecycle, to name a few.

If you’re not into techy stuff, why not visit a charity shop next time you need a fancy dress outfit? You’ll save a heap of money, contribute to a good cause, and help save the planet – a win-win all round!

 

4) Go Renewable

Renewable energy is on the rise, and switching to a renewable energy provider will turn coal-dependent cuppas into a breeze-powered brews! As renewable energy prices continue to fall, bills will too – making this one of the easiest ways to cut carbon footprints, without changing day-to-day life.

Solarplicity’s got you covered on this one; as a leading renewable energy company in the UK, we source all of our power from sustainable supplies – just head over to our Homepage for a quick quote and simple switch!

 

5) Watch What We Eat

Did you know? 1KG of beef requires around 15,000 litres of water to produce, and uses 28 times the amount of land than chicken or pork.

Don’t worry – this isn’t an instruction to stop eating meat. However, it’s clear that decreasing the amount of meat we consume is an effective way to reduce our environmental impact.

If you eat meat every day, why not try one veggie dish a week? Many dishes like a curry or stir-fry work just as well with broccoli and leeks instead of beef and lamb.

If you really are a meat addict, you can still be greener without giving up your daily fix. Switching to more locally sourced and seasonal produce will drastically eat into those food miles. And, as with everything in this list, it doesn’t require a dramatic change in lifestyle or budget.

 

So, there you have it – going green isn’t so hard after all. Simply give these a try and we’ll be eco-warriors in no time!

By Theo Drijver

Tackling climate change. Katie’s on board. Are you?

Join snowboarding sensation Katie Ormerod at Castleford Snozone – 18th December!

As one of the UK’s leading renewable energy providers, we’re passionate about doing all we can to help tackle climate change. That’s why we’re excited to have teamed up with the talented young snowboarder – and future Olympic gold medal hopeful – Katie Ormerod for a very special event at Snozone in Castleford on 18th December 2017, from 5pm-9.30pm.

Katie has always been passionate about protecting the planet and we’re thrilled to introduce her as the newest member of the Solarplicity team. Together, we can beat climate change!

It’s a fact. Skiers and Snowboarders are experiencing climate change first hand. The earth’s rising temperature caused from greenhouse gas emissions is continuing to decrease snow fall, snow cover and snow depth. Alpine ski resorts could lose up to 70% of snow cover by the year 2100. That’s where we come in – with renewable energy producing little or no waste products… therefore having a minimal impact on the environment.

Katie Ormerod spent some of her time snowboarding at Castleford Snozone whilst growing up, working hard to reach the standard of snowboarder she is today. Now, as she builds towards the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, we’re lucky enough to have Katie joining us for a very special event – and you’re invited to come along!

Things will kick off on the slope, as Katie shows off her awesome snowboarding skills, followed by a FREE 1 hour snowboarding lesson, taken by Katie herself!

There are limited spaces available for this very special lesson – so don’t miss out. If you want to take part, call Snozone now, on 0333 003 0520!

Don’t fancy having a lesson but still want to snowboard? We’ll be giving away FREE SHARE THE SLOPE SLOTS, where Katie will be snowboarding on the slope with you! These slots are strictly limited – so book yours now calling the number above so you don’t miss out!

Not up for snowboarding? No problem. There will be lots of other fun activities to keep you busy throughout the evening. Then, at the end of the event, you’ll have the opportunity to hear Katie talk about climate change and participate in a Q&A session!

With future sports stars like Katie on board, we can all do something positive about tackling climate change. We hope you’re on board too!

Full event schedule:

 

EVENT

Katie Ormerod at Castleford Snozone

DATE

Monday 18th December, 2017

TIME

5pm-9.30pm

LOCATION

Snozone Yorkshire
Xscape
Colorado Way
Glasshoughton
Castleford
WF10 4TA

CONTACT

0333 003 0520 (BOOK LESSONS & SLOTS HERE)

RECEPTION

5pm-5.30pm

Get ready for your lesson or snowboarding before Katie takes on the slope.

KATIE IN ACTION

5.30pm-5.45pm

Everyone to head to the slope to watch Katie in action!

Don’t forget to grab a hot drink from the Ice bar between 5:30pm – 8pm.

LESSON

5.45pm-6.45pm

1 hour development level lesson with Katie – remember to call up and book your slot (limited spaces available).

SHARE THE SLOPE

6.55pm-7.35pm

Have some snowboarding fun with Katie on the slope. Free passes available – call Snozone to book!

FREE DRINK

7.35pm-8pm

Time to chill out at the bar and grab your free drink.

FOOD & PHOTO OPPORTUNITES WITH KATIE

8pm-8.45pm

Head to the conference room for a free buffet and photo opportunities with Katie!

INTERVIEW AND Q&A

8.45pm-9.30pm

Listen to Katie talk about the importance of climate change – and get your questions ready for Katie for the Q&A!

Please note these times are an estimate.

COP23 summary

 

COP23 was centred around attempts to make progress on developing the Paris agreement. The deadline for this work is next year’s COP in Poland so the goal of COP23 in Bonn was to create a draft, with options and disagreements outlined to be resolved.

 

Compensation for developing nations

Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Housing and Environment stated that small island states and developing countries are hit far harder than industrialised nations. 25 million people worldwide are already being displaced every year due to the effects of climate change.

Rich countries have not done enough to meet their commitments to helping developing countries. In 2009 it was agreed that developed countries will mobilising $100bn a year to help the developing countries tackle climate change. This was made for the period up to 2020 and countries have not yet delivered. At first, many developed countries dismissed these demands. However, they have now accepted.
At the request of the Fijian COP23 presidency and other partners, it has been decided that they will open a regional hub in Fiji’s capital Suva. This hub will be put in place to advise the small island states on how to reach their climate targets and to support regional cooperation. Key projects will focus on exiting fossil fuels, agriculture, and economic diversification. Small island states depend on fossil fuels for 80-90% of their energy needs.

 

Loss and damage

A key part of helping loss and damage is being able to find sources of finance to cope with the impacts. There is no estimate on how much money is needed by countries suffering climate change now and in the future. More than 50 groups who are disappointed by the slow progress on loss and damage have backed the idea of ‘climate damages tax’, a tax on fossil fuel supplies to help fund support to those hit by climate change impacts. It was mentioned that those believed to be polluters should help pay for homes and livelihoods wrecked by rising sea levels and extreme weather.

In Bonn on Tuesday, negotiators agreed to hold an “expert dialogue” in 2018 to discuss raising funds for climate change victims, deferring the contentious discussion for another year.

 

Coal Phase out

Coal phase out has become a significant focal point. 19 nations have committed to quickly phasing out coal, the dirtiest fuel that kills 80,000 people a year with air pollution. A separate group of 19 nations stated that they plan to use more wood and other plant matter from sustainable sources to generate their energy in their effort to limit climate change. The phase out is needed no later than 2030 for countries in OECD and EU28, and no later than 2050 for the rest of the world.

 

The U.S

Due to the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance argued the country had no right to be involved in negotiations on how to implement the deal. However, an alternative “We Are Still In” delegation set up a large pavilion at their US Climate Action Centre just outside the main venue for the talks.

On day 2, Syria announced that it would sign the Paris Agreement meaning the US is the country standing alone in its stance on climate change.

 

It’s promising to see that positive outcomes are coming from COP and that countries are working together to tackle climate change. Let’s hope that, after next years COP24 in Poland, the Paris Agreement will be completely agreed so we can start building towards a greener planet.

An end to Fuel Poverty

Did you know that more than 30% of people in the UK say that they’re simply too scared to put their heating on through the fear of crippling fuel bills? Not only that, but a staggering 32% said that they will struggle to heat their homes this winter!

Here at Solarplicity, we’ve partnered with Community Energy England, to start a movement to try and end fuel poverty. How? By educating customers to switch away from the ‘Big Six’ UK energy providers and choose simply lower energy bills. What else we’re doing to help: a 1 million kWh give away to 100 of the UK’s most in need residents currently living in fuel poverty.

We’ve been lucky enough to have TV personality Sherrie Hewson involved in our movement. Sherrie wants to take action on the crisis this winter: “It is a major emotional drain for so many people to be faced with day in day out. More than half of us are concerned about someone in fuel poverty, making it more important to highlight the issue and help those most in need – particularly the older generation. I am proud to be supporting the movement from Solarplicity and Community Energy England by helping spread awareness of the help that is available to those struggling this year.”

Households are considered to be in fuel poverty if they have to spend more than 10% of their household income on fuel just to keep their home in an adequate condition. Thus leaving them with a residual income below the official poverty line. Many often have a monthly worry finding themselves facing a fuel poverty “crisis” depending on how much money they have earned that month. Unsurprisingly, the emotional impact that comes with the burden has resulted in many feeling unhappy and even depressed when they receive a heating bill.

As mentioned above, as part of our ongoing mission to end fuel poverty, we are giving away 1 million kWh of energy to those most in need in the UK, in partnership with Community Energy England. We’re working with the charity to identify 100 elderly individuals, who are in fuel poverty and who need our help. The 100 people chosen will receive free energy through solar installations… meaning that their energy worries are over!

As part of the campaign, you’ll see things like dancing nans and even upside down baking! So, keep an eye on our Solarplicity social media pages over the coming weeks – and see how we’re tackling fuel poverty this winter.

COP23 – UN Climate Change Conference 2017

 

In 2015, at the COP21 conference, the Paris Agreement was formed. With 195 signed parties, the agreement was put in place to address the growing concern around climate change, with each member planning and monitoring their own measures to reduce the rise in global temperature.

Since then, COP22 – held in Marrakech, Morocco – came and went with little to no progress being made. Overshadowed by the impending withdrawal of a Donald Trump-led USA, it was then agreed that the details of the agreement would be completed by 2018, with a progress check in 2017. Between 6th – 17th November 2017, the “progress check”, otherwise known as COP23 will be held in Bonn, Germany.

Leading up to the conference, the focus has been on multiple cases of extreme weather around, causing devastation to millions, including in Fiji who will run the conference (although the event takes place in Bonn for logistical reasons).

As set in the Paris agreement, the overall aim is to meet the goal of keeping rises in global temperature to below 2°C. In order to facilitate productive talks, Fiji has renamed the process to “talanoa dialogue”, which comes from a Pacific mantra of using storytelling and talking as a way to make good decisions.

 

Talking points

There are a couple of topics to look out for at COP23 which we have summarised below:

 

1. Compensation for developing nations

A divisive subject, but there will be discussions over the idea of loss and damage to developing nations being compensated by Western countries. Many have claimed that the West has developed over the years irresponsibly, and the effects are one of the causes for natural disasters that often impact developing nations with little means to defend against them. However, this concept has been continuously rebuffed and remains a sticking point in negotiations.

 

2. Insurance

As a counter offer so to speak, the Western nations have offered cheap insurance for poorer nations to protect themselves during extreme weather.

 

3. The U.S

As we all know, The U.S have controversially pulled out of the agreement and this has caused concern amongst other members. The U.S are one of the biggest polluters and the richest nation that contributes to the funding of action against climate change. Without their involvement, many have been concerned about how this may impact progress. However, others see the positives, in that by their withdrawal, they can serve to motivate the remaining 195 parties to work harder to reach their target. Although they have activated their withdrawal clause, The U.S must wait until 2020 until they officially play no part. Until then, they will be able to take part in conferences and talks, and President Trump has planned to promote fossil fuel and nuclear power in Bonn.

 

4. Carbon footprint at COP23

With 12,000 people from all over the world expected to turn out for the event, a lot of whom are flying, there was a concern that the conference would leave a large carbon footprint. However, there have been plans to offset these emissions put in place – for example the electric buses will pick up and take delegates to the conference. UN certified schemes for small island states will also help offset unavoidable emissions.

 

We will provide updates from COP23, where the hope is that world leaders can bring the agreement together so that the planet’s future can be brighter, greener and more sustainable.

Small change, big improvement

 

To better serve our customers, as of October 30th our contact centre opening hours are changing to:

  • Monday-Friday:          9:00am – 5:30pm
  • Saturday:                   9:00am – 1:00pm

You may be wondering, why shorten our opening hours when we have such high customer demand? It’s a good question – and here’s the answer.

We’ve been looking into when customers have called us over the past six months and we found that almost 90% of our incoming calls are between 9:00am-5.30pm. This is very significant. With a similar situation being the case on Saturdays, we needed to react to better serve our customer base.

 

Take a look at the graphic above, which shows average customer call waiting time in May this year, versus average customer waiting time in July this year.

In such a short period of time we reduced our call wait time drastically. So, we already know we have the capability (not to mention the outstanding team) to provide customer service that’s second to none. Now, with customer demand on the rise, we want to make sure we keep heading in the right direction.

Amending our opening hours allows us to have a higher number of expert staff working through the busier periods of the day. We don’t want you spending your precious time waiting on hold, we want you to have the shortest wait time possible. And don’t expect to be waiting until the next eclipse for that email response, we’ve got you covered, you will receive a response into your inbox in no time at all! And remember, when our telephone contact centre is closed, you can still manage your account online through our online portal. Not signed up yet? Register here now!

A small change that’ll make a big improvement: from October 30th, our commitment to customer service will continue to make great strides forward.

 

Renewable Energy: What you should expect

 

When choosing an energy supplier, there are certain things that people look out for to help decide from the many options. Many would opt to base their choice on online reviews that scrutinise the company’s customer service or many may simply go with the most established supplier for peace of mind. However, these days, an increasing number of people are basing their decision on the green credentials of the supplier. If you are one of these people, you may need to look a bit deeper to get a full picture of how green the supplier really is.

With many new entrants on the scene, the renewable energy market has now become more competitive with suppliers promising their customers that by choosing them they will be helping the planet with 100% renewable energy. The demand for renewable energy was once attributed to a small sector where you would find the ‘environmental activist’ type, but the appeal is undoubtedly spreading to standard households and the prices for renewable energy seem to be decreasing all the time.  However, are some customers being misled?

To be sure you are getting the right product; we have highlighted a few things to look out for when choosing your renewable energy supplier:

1. Fuel Mix

Every October all energy suppliers are obliged to publish their fuel mix. This states exactly where their energy comes from and accounts for all the energy that is put into the grid, so even if you are on a green tariff you need to check your supplier’s fuel mix to gauge how green they really are. You should find any supplier’s latest fuel mix on their website.

2. Renewable Energy Certificates

Any renewable energy supplier will possess certificates that prove that 1 MWh was produced from an eligible renewable source. There are two main types:

  • Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO)

REGO certificates aim to provide transparency in the market to consumers who want to know where their energy comes from. Administered by Ofgem, they are used by suppliers to meet the Fuel Mix Disclosure in their supply licenses. Whilst designed to provide transparency, it can be misleading as REGOs can be traded and bought, which only serves to prove that the energy was produced, rather than demonstrate that the supplier has had a direct involvement in that generation. REGOs and their European equivalent were described as “more or less virtual” and only “state that somewhere else in Europe, renewable energy has been produced.” by Jorg Muhlenhoof – the Renewables Coordinator at BEUC – highlighting further how consumers could be misinformed.

  • Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC)

The Renewable Obligation is designed by the government to support large scale generators of renewable energy by obligating suppliers to purchase a certain portion of their energy from these generators. For a lot of suppliers including the big six, the certificates represent nothing more than an obligation that they must meet and the certificates serve as an incentive for the generator as opposed to the supplier.

3. Feed-in Tariff (FIT)

A FIT is a tariff designed to allow consumers to generate their own energy, receiving a payment from their supplier for their troubles. Designed to promote investment into small-scale renewable generation, the FIT rewards those who can install technologies such as solar, hydro or wind at their premises. A supplier must be licensed by Ofgem to provide a FIT option, although they are obliged to offer it if they have over 250,000 customers. For those suppliers who have less customers than that, it is an optional scheme which they will opt in to if renewable energy generation is part of their business model. A renewable energy supplier who does not participate will likely be too small to afford the administration costs.

4. Own Generation

The last thing to check for is if a supplier has their own means of generation. With ROCs and REGOs, the incentive has increased for suppliers to purchase energy from renewable sources, but there are suppliers who have actually invested in the development of renewable sites in the UK, further demonstrating their commitment to green energy. Although this is by no means something you should expect, it holds great appeal to the consumers who want to make sure they are doing as much as they can to lower their carbon footprint.

According to our 2015/2016 Fuel Mix, Solarplicity (formerly LoCO2 Energy) is 100% renewable and possess more REGOs from our own generation and third-party generators than we supplied into the grid. We also offer a FIT tariff despite having less than 250,000 customers as the investment into renewable projects – whatever the scale – is important to us.

Be sure to ask your current or prospective supplier for this information so that you are better placed to know how much they are helping the planet.