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This piece isn’t apropos of anything in particular. There is an organisation in the UK called “Look After My Bills” who won the biggest ever Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank in the US) backing. What they do is survey the energy field and have a portfolio of energy suppliers who have to pass a minimum customer service threshold. This means that, unlike other switching organisations, they might not get the very cheapest in their range of gas and electricity providers, but they have a decent range. What really separates them from their competitors is their USP: once your nice annual introductory tariff for whomever you opt for starts running out, they automatically switch you to the lowest priced tariff at that time. In other words, every year you just consent to their choice by email (or not and they automatically do it anyway after three emails) and let them get on with it. There is no faffing around looking on the internet and phoning people for the cheapest quotes. Job done.

But this isn’t an advert for them. This is to talk bout renewables.

They offered me two schemes: either the cheapest provider or the cheapest provider for green energy (renewables).

In previous years, you would see a cavernous difference between these two prices. However, to my surprise and joy, the cheapest price and the cheapest renewable price were exactly the same. Wow, how times have changed! I can choose the most ethical choice and it is the cheapest! This is where we are at now: renewables are price competitive.

I have long said that the only way to get people to make the ethical choice consistently is for it to be the cheapest. That’s sadly how things are. When you look at the tune to which fossil fuels (and nuclear) are subsidised, and this needs to include negative externalities, then you can really see how price uncompetitive fossil fuels are, and how much of a leg up they get from such subsidisation. See: United States Spend Ten Times More On Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education. A whopping $649 billion was spent subsidizing the fossil fuel industry in 2017 in the US. Renewables didn’t even come close. They weren’t on the same page.

This is what renewables are fighting against – power structures, tradition and cabals. And they’re still coming out on top!

The energy company that I opted for was also right up my alley: The People’s Energy Company (PEC). As they say:

People’s Energy was crowdfunded by a group of people who knew we could do better. Our focus is our members – we have no external shareholders and we’ll pay 75% of profits back to all our domestic members through an annual rebate.

We answer to you and no-one else

People’s Energy wasn’t created for profit – it was created for the people.

2,200 ordinary members of the public funded the company. We answer to them and the thousands of people we serve every day. There are no external shareholders or fat cat investors making money off your basic need for fuel – it’s just you and us. The people.

Profits back to the people

Our focus is our members – we have no external shareholders and we’ll pay 75% of profits back to all our domestic members through an annual rebate. That applies no matter what tariff you’re on. We’ve already started to pay back our initial crowdfunders and we’re expecting to be able to give domestic customers their first annual rebate in 2021. Read more about the People’s Energy profit share

Here for people and planet – our Fuel Mix

The electricity we supply is generated from Biomass, a 100% renewable source. We believe that renewable energy should be the standard – there’s no need anymore to generate electricity using fossil fuels that are harming the planet. As it stands, there is not enough green gas being generated for us to supply it – but we won’t be deterred! There are several approaches we could take, and we want you to help us decide which is best for the planet and for vulnerable populations….

Ratio of highest to lowest earner

By comparison, in one Big 6 company the ratio was 93 : 1 (Source: Annual Reports and Accounts 2017, Centrica)

People’s Energy promise never to exceed a ratio of highest to lowest earner of 10 : 1

Admittedly, biomass electricity generation does have some criticisms, especially if managed badly. It is not carbon neutral, but it does have a great versatility and is far less of a carbon emitter than fossil fuels. It has been previously reported that PEC used the whole range of renewables: “Their energy comes from the renewable sources of wind, solar, hydro and tidal.” That might have shifted over the last few years to make them more price competitive – I don’t know.

This is an excellent analysis of the pros and cons of biomass from the Office of National Statistics: “A burning issue: biomass is the biggest source of renewable energy consumed in the UK“. At least the PEC assures that it is 100% renewable, and one assumes that an organisation with its ethics at front and centre will be seeking to make the most ethical decisions they can.

At any rate, I have moved from a Green tariff at British Gas (that was very reasonable when I took it) and have moved to PEC and am more than happy with the current choice, especially given their holistic ethics (including campaigns and community projects they are involved in). I am interested to see where the market is after another year.


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A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...

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