After striking a blow for consumers over doorstep energy selling, Surrey County Council is launching a campaign to slash up to £7.5 million from electricity and gas bills.
The big six utility firms stopped cold calling after the council’s trading standards team successfully prosecuted Scottish and Southern Energy for using door to door sellers to mislead people into switching energy supplier.
Now the consumer champion council is setting its sights on standing up for people in Surrey days after the news that EDF Energy gas and electricity bills will soar by nearly 11% as part of a fresh round of price hikes from energy suppliers.
It is calling on households and businesses to join a scheme that uses people power as a bargaining chip to drive down bills by as much as £250 a year.
Surrey is one of just a handful of councils across the country involved in what is known as a ‘collective energy switching’ initiative.
Under the scheme, an ‘auction’ with energy providers will be held, with the lowest bid winning. Following the auction, people will be told of the deal and given time to decide whether to switch.
It is estimated that up to 30,000 households and businesses could make the switch. If £250 is saved on 30,000 bills, the total saving will be £7.5m.
Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said: “Our aim is to give power to the people by helping them band together to use their collective clout to get better deals for their gas and electricity.
“It’s a winner for consumers and Surrey because savings on heating and power puts more money in people’s pockets which will be spent locally, giving the economy a boost too.
Denise Le Gal, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Change and Efficiency, said: “This is one of the first and biggest schemes of its kind in the country and at a time when energy firms are ramping up bills we estimate that we can help put up to £250 a year back into tens of thousands of household budgets and business bank accounts.”
The council is currently weighing up bids from potential switching partners. The firm chosen will market the scheme, sign up people who are interested and carry out negotiations with suppliers while the council will provide overall management.
A contract is expected to be awarded shortly, with people asked to decide whether to switch providers in March.