CitizEn Energy, which was set up by Southampton City Council, is this week celebrating reaching a milestone of bringing 1,000 households on to their supply.
Whilst many of its customers are Southampton households CitizEn Energy covers much of the south, south west and the midlands and they have customers across these regions.
Backed by Southampton City Council, the energy provider that puts people before profits was set up with the primary aim of helping those who are really struggling to pay their energy bills, and those who have never switched energy supplier. Last year OFGEM reported that only 18% of households switched energy supplier, and more than half of consumers (58%) have never switched supplier, or have switched only once. 60% of consumers are on a default variable tariff, which means they are missing out on cheaper tariffs available to them.
It is hoped that being council backed, CitizEn Energy will encourage people who are typically unlikely to switch, to see if they could save by switching, and ultimately save money on their energy bills. An energy survey conducted by Southampton City Council in 2017 found that 80% of people would be very or fairly likely to consider switching to a council backed energy provider, if it met their needs. The hope is that CitizEn Energy will encourage people to switch, and that they’ll be more aware of the benefits of checking their own household tariffs regularly.
Amongst their first customers was Don White from Weston, Southampton. At 80 years old, Don had never switched energy supplier, and after hearing about CitizEn Energy decided he was going to find out more. After doing some research, he liked the idea of an energy provider that puts people before profit, and discovered he would save around £15 per month. Don is also keen to do what he can to help the environment, and went on to say:
“I was paying British Gas £65 per month… my bill has now gone down to £49, which is a saving of about £15 per month.
I never believed it was so easy to do… I’m 80, and I’ve never switched in my life. I found it is very, very easy.”
In contrast, households who are on the other end of the switching spectrum have also switched. Tim and his wife from Southampton, who have a young family, have also benefited by switching. Being regular switchers, their main driver for switching was to help their community, and they liked the idea that any money made from CitizEn Energy would be reinvested back into the community in which they live, and that the electricity is green. As a bonus they were also able to save money too. Tim from Southampton said:
“My wife and I saved £22 a month (£268 a year) by switching to CitizEn Energy. We received a flyer, and really liked the idea of a not-for-profit, green, energy supplier, which puts any money made back into the community, which is ultimately good for us as council tax payers. Switching online was really easy, and I phoned through the next day just to check and found out all was well."
Cabinet member for Green City, Councillor Leggett, said:
“We’re delighted to have welcomed our first 1,000 households to CitizEn Energy. We’re proud to be leading the way in revolutionising the energy market, not only for Southampton residents, but also for communities across the region.
Other councils are interested in joining the CitizEn family, and it is hoped that in the near future they will come on board to back CitizEn Energy and spread the word wider. We ultimately want as many people as possible to save money on their energy bills, especially those who are paying over the odds, or are really struggling to pay their bills. Naturally, it’s the most vulnerable in our community that we want to help the most. We want all Southampton residents to be warm and well this winter.”