Plug may be pulled on energy scheme that aimed to save Hartlepool households £200 a year

Robbie Payne
Robbie Payne

A SENIOR councillor says a major scheme aimed at saving thousands of households in Hartlepool up to £200 a year on energy bills is being reviewed after just 138 people agreed to take part.

The idea behind the Community Energy Collective Switching scheme was that residents sign up to the scheme, via Hartlepool Borough Council, while partner organisation IChoosr auctions the energy contract to suppliers and takes the lowest bid.

People then had the chance to see how much they could save before deciding whether to switch with IChoosr responsible for switching suppliers, meaning less hassle for residents.

A total of 1,500 households registered when the scheme was launched last April, but only 138 of those agreed to switch energy supplier.

The figures came to light at a full council meeting, following a question by town resident Ray Pocklington.

Mr Pocklington asked: “Please report on the success or otherwise of the council’s collective energy purchase scheme and whether or not it will be repeated this year?”

In response, Labour councillor Robbie Payne, chairman of the regeneration services committee, said between last February and April, Hartlepool residents had the opportunity to sign up for the scheme.

Coun Payne said: “Around 1,500 households registered and got offers from the successful suppliers and this was a high figure compared to other areas.

“As a percentage of the households, it was the fourth highest but out of them only 138 switched, which was fewer than we had hoped.”

Coun Payne said part of the problem was the way the offer was constructed meant any savings were not “immediately available”, which may have put those in fuel poverty off, especially.

The switching scheme is being considered and Coun Payne said the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) was looking to see if there could be some benefits from economies of scale with other local authorities.

Under the scheme, people are under no obligation to switch after receiving the quote but if they do then everything will be arranged for them.

Anyone in the country can sign up and the scheme works on the concept of bulk buying so the more people that sign up the cheaper energy bills will be.