By DAVID FREEZER
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
A collective energy switching scheme for people living in Norwich has been launched for a second time, with hopes that lessons have been learned from its first attempt.
Norwich City Council’s Big Switch and Save scheme saw two-thirds of the 1,768 city residents who registered at the end of last year offered annual savings of an average of £166. One household even secured a huge saving of £501.
City council leader Brenda Arthur and cabinet member for environmental strategy Bert Bremner, both Labour councillors, re-launched the scheme at City Hall yesterday.
Mrs Arthur said: “It seems particularly relevant given the weather conditions that we are launching it today. The scheme went really well the first time and we know that we saved lots of people a really significant amount of money.
“We know people in Norwich have lower earnings then people in the rest of the region so, again, that’s one of the reasons why we feel the Big Switch and Save scheme is so important.”
"We led the way with tranche one of this scheme and were one of the first local authorities in the UK to register a switch and save scheme.
Since then two-thirds of local authorities are now looking to launch similar schemes, what a rush!"
The scheme culminates in the city council taking a block of people interested in switching their energy provider to an auction.
However, Green councillor Lucy Galvin, a member of the city council’s scrutiny committee, said she hoped lessons had been learned from the first scheme.
Mrs Galvin said: “Collective switching can be a very positive thing but there are three main areas where the first switch failed.
“It wasn’t fairly shared and it wasn’t accessible to the people that needed it most, because it was only really available online and there was less time for people to apply offline.
“The council also needs to be more transparent about the process as it is not clear who is making what money out of this.
“Finally, the council should make it clear to people that they need to check that the deal offered really is the best for them. Many people will be able to get as good or a better deal elsewhere after a couple of minutes online - I certainly did.”
The council has received £26,000 in funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to fund its switching intiatives and is planning community events to help people apply.
Mr Bremner added: “We led the way with tranche one of this scheme and were one of the first local authorities in the UK to register a switch and save scheme.
“Since then two-thirds of local authorities are now looking to launch similar schemes, what a rush!
“It’s great news for our residents because when we go to auction again our numbers will have increased even further and we will be able to get even better savings.
“Our hope is that the lasting legacy of this scheme is to demistify the process of switching for our residents.”
Registration is open for just over 10 weeks, until Monday, April 8 for people who register using the internet and Monday, March 24 for people who register offline.
The city council then plans to attend an auction on Tuesday, April 9 and offline registrants will then have until Friday, April 19 to decide whether to switch and online registrants having until Wedjnesday, April 24.
For more information, and to register, go to http://norwich.ichoosr.com