Our Meet the Small Supplier series features smaller, independent gas and electricity suppliers of the UK. We interview them to find out more about who they are, what makes them different and why you might choose to switch your energy to them.
Bristol Energy is a national gas and electricity supplier 10 years on the making.
Recently, Bristol Energy has volunteered to offer the Government’s Warm Home Discount, making it one of only three independent suppliers who have chosen to sign up.
The Warm Home Discount is a key government scheme tackling fuel poverty in Great Britain. It obligates larger energy suppliers with over 250,000 customers to provide support to those in, or at risk of, fuel poverty.
Peter Haigh, managing director of the Bristol-based energy provider, talks to Uswitch about building a business on innovation in a city known for it.
Uswitch: Can you tell us a bit about Bristol Energy’s beginning and how you got to where you are now?
Peter Haigh: Bristol has a reputation for innovation and creativity, so it’s no accident that Bristol Energy was founded in the city. We’re a national gas and electricity company — run by a team of experts from the energy industry — but, unlike traditional suppliers, we’ll reinvest our profits back into local communities.
More than 10 years in the making, we were set up by Bristol City Council to help people pay less for their energy bills, and help support those struggling to heat their homes. This ethos, and our fair prices, is attracting customers from Dundee to Truro. And, at a time where Councils need to be innovative in the way they generate revenue, Bristol Energy will provide Bristol City Council with an alternative income stream, helping to support a city with around 450,000 residents.
More city councils are now looking to follow suit.
Uswitch: What makes Bristol Energy unique in the energy market?
Peter Haigh: It’s a tragedy that some people can’t afford to heat their home or cook a hot meal, and that two-thirds of people across the country are still paying hundreds of pounds a year more than they need to. With no private shareholders to keep happy, we’re able to offer fair prices, and are already saving our customers (on average) around £200 per year on their bills.
Paying for your gas and electricity is a necessary spend, so knowing that your money could make a positive impact is a good feeling. Customers from across the country have already joined us – attracted by the fact that our prices are fair and our profits are doing some good, even if it’s not in their own back yard. And, as we grow, we’ll be looking for opportunities to support communities on a national scale too.
We also offer face-to-face customer service, something that’s very unusual these days in the energy industry. However, our Bristol Energy Hub is already attracting people who want to talk about their bill over a cup of tea. Energy can be complicated, but it needn’t be. Our team is committed to making things simple – whether that’s online, over the phone and in person.
Uswitch: Can you describe Bristol Energy’s philosophy in one sentence:
Peter Haigh: Bristol Energy is a force for social good, offering fair and straightforward energy prices to national customers – and making a positive difference.
Uswitch: Anything else you'd like to say about Bristol Energy?
Peter Haigh: As well as offering fairer prices, we also want to offer choice. We’ve started working with people who generate renewable energy, and hope to be able to offer this energy to our customers towards the end of this year. And we’re embracing new technology. We’ve just launched our smart meter trial and want to educate our customers to use less and spend less too.
Just this morning, I overheard one of our team projecting a saving of over £1,000 per year for one of our customers. After 25 years in the business, I still find it unbelievable how many people are paying too much for their gas and electricity. Switch to us and find out for yourself.