How would you make the energy market better for everyone?

We want to hear your thoughts on how the energy market could be made better for everyone. We’re proud to offer all our members simple, affordable, renewable energy. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky. Many people are still faced with confusing information and expensive energy from their suppliers.

We want to fix the energy industry to make it fairer for everyone, not just our members. So we’re writing to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in response to a letter he wrote Ofgem (the National Regulatory Authority for the Gas and Electricity Markets). In the letter, which you can read here, he asks Ofgem what they are planning to do to improve the energy industry.

We’ve got a few suggestions but we want to know which you think are most important. Which of these would be your top 3?

1 - Introduction an energy price cap
2 - Suppliers offering one simple tariff
3 - An end to ‘Tease and Squeeze’ tactics
4 - Savings from wholesale price cuts to be passed on to customers
5 - Suppliers to increase the proportion of their energy sourced from renewables
6 - Insulate more homes to help reduce bills, focussing on fuel-poor households
7 - Make it easier for people to switch energy suppliers through greater transparency and scrapping exit fees
8 - New ‘Research & Development’ investment into reducing demand and developing energy efficient techniques and materials

Thanks.
Matt

I don’t think the government taking control of the market is the correct solution.
I personally would go for options 6, 7, and 8.

If consumers can’t be bothered to switch surely it’s there fauly they get charged more. You could argue this in any market, should the government cap phone contracts? Cap car insurance?

The problem is, no matter how easy you make it most people won’t switch. The current account switch service is a great example of that. Incredibly easy and robust and still people stay with the same old Bank that they hate

I looked at the list, and came up with the same top 3 as Jed.

I am not fundamentally in favour of a price cap as such (for the same reasons). The main problem is that many of the people who would most benefit from switching suppliers are least likely to do so - for example those in fuel poverty, or on pre-pay meters. So if anything, my priorities would be 7 first, then 6 and 8. Just because some people find switching easy, doesn’t mean that everyone does. Much more could be done to highlight to customers when they are paying more than they need to - even without switching, it should be possible for suppliers to be a bit more forthcoming with those of their customers who could be on a cheaper rate.

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on this @jedmoore and @mike470 and really interesting to see that you’re both in the same sort of place on it.

I think my comment about switching came across a little harsh although I still think the point is valid. A lot of people don’t like change so more could be done to advertise how easy a switch is for most people.

I also understand that some people do not have the capabilities to find the best price for energy. How we cater to these people is a trickier question.

Some interesting ideas. Im less in favour of the one simple tariff idea though. As we head into the smart meter and electric vehicle age (and potentially wide-scale home storage) I think we will need lots of innovative and experimental approaches to tariff design while suppliers figure out how to make best use of things like aggregation, demand-side management, time of use charging etc. Forcing suppliers to settle on one tariff is likely to lead to a potentially risky race to the bottom on price with corners cut at every opportunity at a time when we need you guys to be investing in the future and taking risks on as yet unproven business models and future technologies. I guess this is linked to point 8 to some extent but again I’m not sure it is the place of the energy market to be looking at new materials . This is very important but should be part of the new industrial strategy rather yet another (albeit necessary) investment that is being made stealthily through our bills.

On that topic, I would rather have more clarity on what our bills are paying for and would rather stuff like smart meters, renewable subsidies be paid for through general taxation or a carbon tax. I support many of the measures that go into the environmental and social policy cost part of our bills but it feels unethical to me that they are paid for in this way as hardly any of us really understand the full picture and this leads to lots of mis-information about the ‘green crap’ as our former prime minister once put it.

The obvious thing that the energy market should be doing for me is point 5 and that was the main reason I switched to Bulb from Ecotricity as it felt like your price based approach had most potential of driving change in the current climate of non-existent government support for established renewable technologies. We need to create as much incentive for renewables to be deployed as we can and desperately need a replacement for the RO in order to manage the next wave of mass deployment that will inevitably come at some stage in the next decade. Hopefully this can come naturally by companies like bulb learning to be both renewable and cheap and driving demand as their customer base grows but the energy ‘market’ is basically an artificial construction as I see it so you need to have government driving things if we are ever to push coal and gas off the grid quickly.

Decarbonising heating also strikes me as the next big challenge that we dont yet have answers to so that should be a higher priority in any market reform. I think efficiency could be better tackled through regulation elsewhere like housing market reform (e.g. landlords cant rent a property unless it has a B rating or above or progressively linking stamp duty to the energy rating of a property) or legislation to phase out old, inefficient technologies (eg halogen bulbs). If we are going to be stuck with a portion of our bills paying for strategic priorities like this then I would prefer it be focused on heating solutions, maybe a boiler scrappage scheme or incentives to switch to new electric heating technologies like heat pumps, far infra-red, electric boilers or green gas technologies.

I realise this is a bit of a rambling reply but hopefully of some use to you!

Thanks @alex. Really interesting to hear your thoughts and I’m really glad you like our approach to making renewables affordable for everyone. We really don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be.

I switched on the basis of price and googled to see if bulb had a reputation
I am not interested whether my power comes from a windmill or any other source mainly because I don’t believe the hype of so called climate change
As for tariffs 2 is enough fixed or variable.
People who struggle to pay their bills are more interested in more money in their pocket, Free or cheap insulation does not put food in their mouths.

I think that when someones contract comes to an end they should automatically be moved onto the cheapest tariff not the most expensive.

I switched on the basis of price and googled to see if bulb had a `reputation` I am not interested whether my power comes from a windmill or any other source mainly because I don't believe the hype of so called `climate change` As for tariffs 2 is enough fixed or variable. People who struggle to pay their bills are more interested in more money in their pocket, Free or cheap insulation does not put food in their mouths.

@scudo what exactly is it about the “hype” of climate change you don’t buy into? and why have you used quotation marks around climate change like it isn’t the single biggest treat that the world has ever faced.

climate change has been forever since way back, First we had global cooling then global warming now they call it climate change so it covers all options. Most environmental issues are just another excuse to pull in more taxes.

There are many articles on the subject both for and against.

…“The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.
The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.
This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.”…

@scudo If you could quote me a peer reviewed scientific paper released in the last 20 years which shows any evidence that climate change is not real or that humans are not directly responsible.

The “new data” or the “many articles on the subject” may as well be “fake news” unless it is peer reviewed in the scientific community.

I am not here to win a discussion I voiced my opinion.
If you are genuinely interested then google something like “peer reviewed articles against global warming” and I am sure you will get hours of reading.

I dont need a peer review as there has been climate change in my lifetime, it is not static.

@scudo I’m confused, you say that you "don’t believe the hype of so called climate change " but also that “there has been climate change in my lifetime, it is not static.”

Which is it? is it hype or is it real?

If voice your opinion you should be able to defend it.

Both! Climate change as in the evolution of the planet is real the hype is government motivated.

@scudo so you dont think that’s humans over dependence on fossil fuels is a bad thing? We should just keep burning coal and oil? Co2 emission levels are ok?

Regardless of if you believe the vast majority of scientists on climate chang surely reducing particulate matter and pollutants in the local atmosphere is a good thing?

I didn’t say over dependence was good! None of the alternatives are what they would have us believe.
It is how it is sold to us and then taxed or mis used accordingly rather than solving the root issue.

Windmill generation maybe green as a working model but it causes massive amounts of pollution in their production, killing wildlife and inflicting human suffering.

Diesel was a known cancerogenic and pollutant many years back but was sold to the public as the best thing since sliced bread until this year where they are now looking to penalising diesel owners.

The wealthy have installed back-up diesel generators for the grid on their land and get paid as they stand idle.

Airplane pollution is solved by slapping a tax on flights! That doesn’t reduce pollution.

Free insulation accumulated green/carbon points per household which were then sold to industry which in turn meant they could continue polluting.

How much of our fuel bills go towards paying for subsidies and top of that we have to pay 5% Vat.

That aside I don’t think this discussion should be continuing on here as it is hijacking the original posters thread.

I work in the construction industry mainly building wind farms, I don’t particularly like them as a generation source but to say they cause massive amounts of pollution, kill wildlife and cause human suffering is just totally incorrect.

A recent project I worked on we had to move a turbine because there were badgers living in one of the proposed areas.

Wind does create some grid balancing problems and to counteract the preveliance of wind the national grid are having to connect a number of so called diesel generator farms which aren’t very clean.

We really need grid scale storage options before renewables really become viable. Pumped hydro is the most ideal for this but there is limited capability left in the UK.

Renewables create jobs, drive the local economy, are economically viable, and full life cycle emissions are still lower than the cleanest fossil fuel (gas)

I work in the construction industry mainly building wind farms, I don’t particularly like them as a generation source but to say they cause massive amounts of pollution, kill wildlife and cause human suffering is just totally incorrect.

I refer to the manufacturing process not the construction on site. Below is one link of many.