The Co-operative are relative newcomers to the UK energy supplier market but are a welcome alternative to the ongoing dominance of the big six suppliers.
Being the co-op they have no shareholders, offer money back for co-op members and are attempting to be ethical and transparent. It’s hard to be a small energy supplier in the UK due to the way the market operates so I have to assume they’re partnering with one of the big six if only for the purchasing of energy at a price that makes it viable for them, as a small player, to even operate.
It’s interesting to see the Co-operative’s breakdown of how the supply of gas and electricity is costed which is refreshingly honest.
Price wise they’re offering a non tiered pricing structure so no consumer is getting penalised with paying higher rates if they are a low energy user as is the case with many UK electricity and gas suppliers who charge a higher rate for a certain percentage of KWh consumed each month or quarter before lower priced rates kick in.
The only fly in the ointment with regard to the Co-op pricing is a yearly standing charge of £63 for electricity and the same again for gas.At least it’s clearly defined so for a customer taking both gas and electricity this would work out as a fixed £10.50 a month standing charge in addition to energy consumed or £5.25 per month for either just gas or electricity alone.
Not Claiming To Be The Cheapest
The Co-op are not claiming to be the cheapest supplier at the point of sign up but they’re trying to be very clear about their prices and not locking people in to any deal so there’s no penalty for leaving. They criticise many of the big six for offering temporary low rates in order to attract new customers in the hope of lperhaps ocking them into inevitably higher rates at a later date (though the Co-op seem to be temporarily offering a £50 money back to attract some customers at present but at least the consumer is free to leave at any time with no penalty costs).
A PDF of their domestic energy prices as of June 2011 is available here
Alternatives in the slightly cartel-like world of UK energy suppliers are always welcome. The nearest competitor to the Co-op stall would be not-for-profit company Ebico who are another declared ethical supplier.