Robin Hood Energy: Not-for-profit power for the people
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Fighting for fairer energy prices.
There’s a new energy supplier in town and just like the legend himself, Robin Hood Energy, the innovative not-for-profit energy company set up by Nottingham City Council, is determined to put money back in the pockets of the people.
Robin Hood Energy launched in September 2015. It’s the first local authority-owned not-for-profit energy supply company since the nationalisation of Great Britain’s electricity supply industry in 1948. Its primary focus is to provide affordable energy to customers and to help tackle fuel poverty by offering cheap tariffs and supplying energy at affordable prices.
You don’t need to live in Nottingham to benefit from its competitive tariffs. Domestic customers in England, Scotland and Wales can switch to Robin Hood Energy to purchase their gas and electricity. Business tariffs will be launched later in the year.
Councillor Alan Clark, Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for Energy and Sustainability, said when Robin Hood Energy was launched: “The UK’s domestic energy market has been hit with fluctuating Government policies and subsidy cutbacks. In recent years, the cost of utility bills has spiraled as the profit-hungry ‘Big six’ energy companies have exploited their monopoly. We have decided to take the bold step of setting up Robin Hood Energy so that energy can be provided to customers across Nottingham and beyond at the lowest possible price, run not-for-profit but for people.”
Customers who switched to Robin Hood Energy (during the controlled market entry phase) from their existing providers are forecast to save on average up to £237 per year on their annual energy bills.
My experience with Robin Hood Energy
I first encountered Robin Hood Energy in my role as a Voluntary Debt Adviser at Cornerstone Money Advice, Nottingham. I noticed when our clients entered their energy consumption details into uSwitch.com’s energy price comparison tool, (searching the whole energy market and not just suppliers that can be accessed via uSwitch), Robin Hood Energy emerged as the cheapest supplier. In fact, Robin Hood Energy’s tariffs are predicted to slash one of our client’s bills by £100’s of pounds a year.
Surprised by the level of savings, and impressed by Robin Hood Energy’s not-for-profit philosophy, I decided to put my own energy supplier and consumption details into the uSwitch comparison tool. Sure enough, Robin Hood Energy emerged as the most competitive tariff for me as well. In fact, by switching from my Scottish Power Fixed dual fuel tariff (which uSwitch identified as one of the most competitive tariffs at the time) to the Robin Hood Prime fixed rate dual fuel tariff I could save over £300 a year. Furthermore, if I opted to manage my account online I’d receive an additional £45 discount, (£22.50 per fuel per year).
I switched to Robin Hood Energy in November 2015 and although it’s still early days I have been very impressed with them so far. The welcome pack I received was easy to understand and the details of the tariff and terms and conditions were clearly stated. I can submit my meter readings online or over the telephone and I’ve also called Customer Services a few times with queries and I have found them to be very helpful and knowledgeable.
What core tariffs do Robin Hood Energy offer?
Robin Hood Energy offers a range of competitive tariffs and Nottingham City residents can take advantage of a unique ‘Nottingham tariff’ which is only available to customers in the City of Nottingham. Customers can check which tariffs are appropriate to them by entering their postcode into the ‘quote portal’ on the website. Robin Hood Energy’s three core tariffs are:
- Evergreen (standard variable)
- Prime (one year fixed-term)
- Nottingham (for Nottingham city residents only)
You can choose to pay your bills in a number of ways, including by variable or fixed direct debit and there are additional discounts of £22.50 per fuel per year if you opt to manage your account online.
After an Ofgem report in June 2015 highlighted concerns that a lack of competition within the prepayment market resulted in higher energy bills for customers who rely on prepayment tariffs, Robin Hood Energy decided to tackle this problem by launching a competitive prepayment tariff in November. It was one of the cheapest prepayment tariffs available on the market at the time of its launch, (£77.65 cheaper than British Gas’s cheapest dual fuel medium user tariff and £125.23 cheaper than British Gas’s duel fuel economy 7 meter tariff).
PAYG tariffs are of particular benefit to people on lower incomes who prefer to have prepayment meters to manage their household budgets. The flexibility of PAYG means that they can top up their meters regularly during the year and spread the cost, rather than be hit with larger bills during the winter months.
Does Robin Hood Energy charge any exit fees?
Robin Hood Energy doesn’t charge any exit fees. Customers wishing to change tariffs or leave Robin Hood Energy are free to do so at any time.
Where does Robin Hood Energy Source it’s energy?
The energy supplied to customers is sourced from the National Grid via a Grid Master Trade Agreement. When Robin Hood Energy is more established, it may consider a Power Purchase Agreement with a local or a national energy generator to secure the lowest possible energy purchasing price as part of its commitment to help keep tariffs low for customers.
How can Robin Hood Energy guarantee to keep tariffs low?
Robin Hood Energy is a not-for-profit company owned by Nottingham City Council. Its directors, who are not paid a salary, and other employees don’t receive bonuses and it has few overheads which help maintain low tariffs for customers.
Switching your gas and electricity supplier.
Although you can get an instant quote on the Robin Hood Energy website, I recommend that you use a price comparison website like uSwitch or MoneySavingExpert.com’s Cheap Energy Club first. These powerful gas and electricity tariff comparison tools will identify which suppliers can offer you the most competitive tariffs, depending on your usage and requirements. It is also important for you to check whether the tariffs are fixed or variable and whether there are any exit fees. Don’t forget to take into account any exit fees you may need to pay if you switch from your current supplier.
If, after doing your research, Robin Hood Energy offers you the best deal, switching is easy. To get an instant quote, customers simply need to visit the website or call 0800 0304567 (calls are free from mobiles and landlines).
Why not see whether Robin Hood Energy can put some money back in your pocket too?
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I’ve not heard of Robin Hood Energy before. I think it’s great that a local authority has set up an energy company in order to benefit consumers rather than shareholders.
Thanks for explaining! I went to the incredible Light Night in Nottingham, which they sponsored, but with two kids and the dark to contend with, and all the entertainment, didn’t figure out what they offered different to other suppliers. Very interesting!
Thanks for your comments. Yes, it is such an innovative idea. The problem is that although they are ‘not for profit’ and are offering some keen energy deals (especially if you have a City of Nottingham postcode), they don’t have the advertising budget of the big 6 firms and are new to the energy market not many people have heard about them. Even if they have heard the name, they don’t know what makes them stand out from the other companies. Check them out and see if they can save you money too.