Scottish social landlords launch non-profit energy supplier to tackle fuel poverty with Scot-Govt. backing

fuel povertyBy DARA BUTTERFIELD

A new independent energy supply company – the first in the UK operating on a non-profit basis – has received £3.5 million in funding and plans to be selling heat and power to tenants in 200,000 homes across Scotland by 2020.

Our Power Energy expects to save its members up to 10%on their household utility bills compared to standard commercial tariffs.

The company has been backed by the Scottish Government to the tune of £2.5 million with another £1 million from Social Investment Scotland, both in the form of repayable loans.

Alister Steele, Chairman, Our Power, said: “This is a monumental day for Our Power. We are absolutely delighted to have agreed a funding package with Scottish Government and Social Investment Scotland’s Social Growth Fund.

“Our Power can now fully focus on market entry and delivering a utility offer to households disadvantaged most in the energy market.

“Fuel poverty is one of the biggest issues facing society today and Our Power is fully committed to help eradicate it.”

The company will enter the market at the end of 2015 as an OFGEM-licensed supplier of gas and electricity to provide lower cost energy to the tenants and communities of its member organisations.

Over the next five years, this could see up to £11 million of savings for households in some of the most disadvantaged communities across the country.

In the future, Our Power hopes to develop renewable energy projects as part of its business for the benefit of local communities.

Alex Neil, MSP, Social Justice MinisterScotland’s Social Justice Minister Alex Neil  (left) said: “Fuel poverty is at its highest level in a decade with fuel prices having risen by an inflation-busting 7%between 2012 and 2013.

“A recent investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that millions of energy customers are paying too much for their energy bills.

“That is why the Scottish Government has invested £2.5 million in Our Power. It will be the first independent and fully licensed energy supply company registered as a non-profit distributing organisation owned by its members.

“This ground-breaking company will make a real difference to tens of thousands of low income households who are currently disadvantaged in the energy market and struggling to pay their bills.”

Alastair Davis, Chief Executive, Social Investment Scotland, said: “Fuel poverty is a major issue for many households throughout Scotland. However, by removing profit from the equation, Our Power offers a new way of tackling this problem.

“Over the next five years Our Power will help many disadvantaged families reduce their energy bills and stay warm.”

“We look forward to seeing Social Investment Scotland’s £1 million investment in Our Power make a tangible difference to communities across the country.”

Our Power Energy, a subsidiary of Our Power Community Benefit Society, has been founded by 35 member organisations including some of Scotland’s largest housing associations, and local authorities.

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