Nottingham City Council has launcehd Robin Hood Energy, the
first local authority owned gas and electricity supplier on the
As fuel poverty increases across the UK one of the solutions
proposed has been publically owned energy supply. However, is this
possible and sustainable?
The answer came in September 2015 when Robin Hood Energy became
the first local authority owned, gas and electricity supplier on
the market. This ground breaking move was carried out by Nottingham
City Council, who after a series of consultations, concluded that
the most effective way to tackle fuel poverty was to set up its own
energy supply company.
While Nottingham City Council has been involved in the energy
market for many decades, including operating the UK's largest
district heat and power scheme, Robin Hood Energy represents a
significant long-term investment. It has allowed the council to use
its existing expertise to enter the licenced gas and electricity
market and re-shape the boundaries of what municipal energy supply
Robin Hood Energy's mission is to tackle fuel poverty by
offering affordable gas and electricity. It takes a socially
motivated approach to its business activities and maintains a low
cost base by operating as a not-for-profit company with no
superfluous expenses such as directors bonuses or paid
Their commitment to reducing fuel poverty was demonstrated in
November 2015 when it released the UK's first competitively priced
gas and electricity prepayment tariff. Prepayment customers, or
Pay-As-You Go customers as they're more commonly referred to, are
traditionally the most vulnerable and likely to be fuel poor.
Pay-As-You-Go meters do incur some extra administrative costs to
run, however these costs do not justify the often exorbitant
tariffs charged by big energy companies to low income, struggling
meter users. Up until November 2015 there had been no competitively
priced prepayment tariffs available on the market and it was Robin
Hood Energy's first priority from launch to begin redressing this
Robin Hood Energy has already recognised the benefits delivered
by smart meter technology and, as of August 2016, began rolling out
Pay-As-You-Go smart meters to prepayment customers who benefit the
most from further energy savings, control and increased payment
options. The efficiencies delivered by smart meters bring down
running costs which ultimately results in a reduction of tariffs
The company recently extended its smart meter mandate and is
rolling out Pay-As-You-Go smart meters as standard for social
housing voids with existing prepayment meters. Local authorities
already in partnership with Robin Hood Energy are now benefiting
from the installation of smart meters in their housing stock.
Their smart meter offering is based around void and vacant
properties and involves local authority landlords switching these
to Robin Hood Energy's supply during the void period. A great deal
of attention has been given to developing a slick switching process
for voids to ensure that the lettings team's resources are used as
efficiently as possible. The voids process, developed with other
partners from the social housing sector, offers the lowest possible
administrative burden to the organisations involved and includes a
financial incentive by way of waived standing charges.
During the void period Robin Hood Energy engineers install dual
fuel smart meters in void properties so that when a new tenant
moves in the property will be on an affordable tariff as opposed to
an expensive, variable tariff generally offered as default by large
energy companies. It can often be months before a new tenant
realises they have been paying an expensive default tariff making
it likely they will move into a situation of fuel debt, something
the company is determined to prevent. Residents on a Robin Hood
tariff retain the right to switch away, however the prices and
excellent customer service make this unlikely.
Robin Hood Energy is leading a growing movement of council run
energy suppliers who are determined to put the needs of the energy
consumer back at the heart of energy supply.
Benefits to Local Authority Landlords
- Traditional pre-payment meters are replaced with smart meters
which reduces administrative time spent wiping debt and topping
- There are no standing charges applied during the void period
(up to 40 days).
- An annual retention payment is available for customers who
remain supplied by Robin Hood Energy.
- Dedicated, easy to contact account administrators manage the
void switching process.
- Affordable energy bills for tenants reduces the chances of them
becoming fuel poor.
- Tenants who move out of fuel poverty can spend their income
locally which supports the local economy and
Benefits to tenants
- Smart meter installations allow tenants to manage their energy
use efficiently and offer more flexible top up methods for those
who struggle to leave their property.
- Monthly billing for credit customers negates the risk of lump
sum, quarterly billing that can leave a tenant in debt.
- Friendly Disconnect meaning if a customer runs out of credit
outside of office hours they won't be disconnected until opening
- The company pursues an ethical debt management process that,
where possible, assists tenant to pay off the debt to us without
- Robin Hood Energy operate a Priority Service Register that
includes a number of options to ensure the most vulnerable tenants
- A Freephone contact number connects customers to a dedicated
customer service centre whose advisors are trained in energy
efficiency advice as well as account
APSE Energy is working alongside Nottingham City Council and
Robin Hood Energy to promote the benefits they can bring to those
local authorities who wish to work with them.
Any ARCH member wanting to learn more about Robin Hood
Energy can contact Phil Brennan, Head of APSE Energy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on
0161 772 1810.