Get switched on

Launching the new scheme which aims to get thousands of Hartlepool households cheaper fuel
Launching the new scheme which aims to get thousands of Hartlepool households cheaper fuel

A MAJOR scheme that could save thousands of households in Hartlepool up to £200 a year on energy bills is set to go live next week.

The idea behind the Community Energy Collective Switching scheme is 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 have the chance to see how much they could save before deciding whether to switch and IChoosr is responsible for switching suppliers, meaning less hassle for residents.

Residents can sign up to the scheme from Monday through a dedicated website and have until April 8 to register their interest, with the auction taking place the next day.

Council bosses say 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.

Speaking at the launch, Mayor Stuart Drummond, who said he would be registering, added: “In the current climate everybody is looking for ways to save money and this is a great opportunity to do just that.

“If it is going to save you money then for me this is a no-brainer and it takes away all of the hassle.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to sign up.”

Dave Hammond, the council’s energy management officer, added: “This is a win, win situation.

“People are under no obligation to switch after receiving the quote.”

Partner organisations include housing association the Vela Group, which will be informing residents, and the West View Advice and Resource Centre.

Val Evens, manager of the West View Advice and Resource Centre, described the scheme as an “excellent idea” adding: “This will go some way to offset the additional living costs people are faced with.”

The scheme started in Belgium and Holland and local authorities across England have now started to launch similar initiatives.

As well as saving residents hundreds of pounds depending on which tariff they are currently on, the scheme could also generate a small income for the council through the commission for signing households up.

The switching partner is responsible for taking details of interested residents and auctioning the energy contract.

After the auction process they will set up an agreement with the successful supplier and inform registered households of the winning bid and support those who still want to switch and process applications.

To register visit www.hartlepool.gov.uk/collectiveswitching or call Hartlepool Connect on (01429) 523330 and residents will need their most recent gas and/or electricity bill to hand.