Not-for-profit energy supplier steps up the fight against fuel poverty with new initiative

Caitlin Logan

Customers trapped into paying more by restricted meters to be helped by Our Power’s new project

NOT-FOR-PROFIT energy supplier Our Power has teamed up with charity Money Advice Scotland to help tackle fuel poverty among people who use electric storage heating and are tied into using restricted meters, often leaving them unable to switch provider while paying 2.5 times more to heat their homes than those using gas.

These customers in North Scotland are generally on what is called a Total Heat Total Control tariff while those in the South are on ComfortPlus Control or White Meter, which tend to be dominated by two major energy suppliers: Scottish Power and SSE.

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Our Power, which is co-operatively owned by social housing providers, community organisations and local authorities, has set out to address the issue by launching a variable tariff, called the ‘Take Control Tariff’, which can be used by customers on restricted meters and offers a fairer energy price.

Alister Steele, chair and co-founder at Our Power, explained the initiative: “This is exactly the type of unfairness Our Power was created to address.

“Through no fault of their own thousands of people across Scotland are being disadvantaged by the type of electric meter they are using. As we enter the grip of Winter the blight of fuel poverty will bite across our communities.

“Our ethos is about fairness, offering customers choice and respect through good service. Consumers on restricted meters have the right to choose more affordable energy. This is at the heart of this campaign.”

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Homes with restricted meters are predominately based in areas off the gas grid or in multi-story blocks, and pay considerably more to heat their homes than those heating their homes by gas.

This means the risk of fuel poverty is greater, but the choice to switch to a cheaper supplier is limited by the restricted meter.

Partnering with Our Power on the project is Money Advice Scotland, which provides free and impartial financial advice and aims to support financial inclusion.

Yvonne MacDermid, chief executive of Money Advice Scotland, said: “As we enter Winter, our network of member money advisors are confronted with the fall-out of fuel poverty on a daily basis.

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“Front and central to dealing with this issue is ensuring that all consumers, irrespective of their financial status or where they live, have access to a broad range of tariffs.

“We are aware of the issue of restricted meters preventing customers from accessing more affordable energy and we welcome Our Power’s move to find a solution.”

In October this year, a Social Purpose Bond was launched by Our Power into the market via the positive savings and investment platform, Ethex. With the aim of securing investment in the social enterprise, allowing it to expand its model across the UK, the bond has raised almost £3m so far.

Picture courtesy of Our Power

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