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					Devon Affordable Warmth Update 1/2006


Welcome to the spring edition of the Devon Affordable Warmth Update. This update is
produced for local authorities, social services, fuel suppliers, housing associations, voluntary
groups and other stakeholders in Devon that are interested in eradicating fuel poverty and
promoting affordable warmth. The news bulletin aims to facilitate the exchange of news and
information across Devon and it provides policy updates, encourages partnership working
across all the sectors and informs about upcoming events related to affordable warmth and
fuel poverty.

This bulletin will be published quarterly and the next will be published in spring. If you have
any story to submit on affordable warmth projects or news from your area please contact the
Devon Affordable Warmth Officer – Martin Eibl - on 01752 235 183 or email
martin.eibl@nea.org.uk.

If you no longer wish to receive this bulletin please email to martin.eibl@nea.org.uk and write
„unsubscribe‟ in the subject line.


***PLEASE SEE „TAKE ACTION BOX‟ AT THE END OF THIS BULLETIN!!!***


In this edition

Editorial

Devon News
1.   Energy Buddy in South Hams
2.   Village Energy Rural Action (VERA) in North Devon
3.   Save money on your fuel bills… and on your Council Tax in South Hams!
4.   Fuelstretcher trial in Plymouth - saving energy in sheltered accommodation
5.   Plymouth City Council‟s Colin is elected chair of the regional HECA Forum
6.   Devon Affordable Warmth Task Force Programme continues!
7.   Rural Energy Champion Scheme – a huge success
8.   Join a warm Yoga lesson in Northleigh Village Hall in East Devon
9.   Family Energy and Benefit Support Project

Regional news
10. South West develops Low Carbon Housing & Fuel Poverty Strategy
11. Regional Public Health Group and NEA launch Guidance Note at Fuel Poverty Forum
12. Regional Assembly scrutinises fuel poverty activities in the South West

National News
13. Energy savings begin at home, DTI says
14. Fuel Poverty Advisory Group urges for Government intervention in energy price hike
15. Budget 2006 and fuel poverty
16.   Scottish Executive supports micro-renewables initiative in Scotland
17.   Ofgem tells energy customers to switch
18.   Ofgem seeks to unlock the potential of smart meters in the home
19.   Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy
20.   New report on smart meters

***TAKE ACTION BOX – Warmer Homes for All in Devon***

*Table: Price increase for electricity and gas – January 2003 to March 2006 (Energy watch)*

Dates
11 April 2006        Regional Assembly‟s workshop on domestic energy efficiency & fuel
                     poverty, Taunton
15 May 2006          Deadline for Devon Affordable Warmth Task Force Programme
20 June 2006         DSEN Domestic Energy & Health Subgroup, Exeter
22 June 2006         South West Fuel Poverty Forum & Launch of 'The ‘Heat is on’ DVD,
                     The Wellspring Leisure Centre, Taunton




Editorial
‘Gas prices boil over!’ (The Times, February 6 2006) -This has been a persistent message in
the national media over the past few months, and one which you couldn‟t easily avoid even if
you only occasionally buy a newspaper. Should the media coverage not have reached you, you
must surely have faced the truth when your latest fuel bill arrived.

The facts:

Electricity and gas prices have risen sharply over recent months. Overall, in the last 20
months or so, gas prices have increased through a series of smaller rises by up to 70% and
electricity prices by up to 65%. These increases are substantial. Translating them into actual
fuel bills we see that the average annual gas bills in the UK have jumped from £330 (Jan 03)
to £539 (Mar 06). The average annual bill for electricity in the UK has climbed from £242 to
£349 (figures from www.energywatch.org.uk) in the same time.

What does this mean?

For households that could not afford to adequately heat their homes the burden has increased.
What was already „hurting‟ these households will now be hurting even more.
We will see even more vulnerable households, such as low income families with young children
and households with elderly or disabled people, facing the decision as to whether to turn off
the heating in order to have money for another hot meal.
Hospitals will see an increase in the numbers of patients suffering from cold related illnesses,
in particular when we have extremely cold spells as experienced over recent months.
The Government will see its targets to eradicate fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010
becoming harder and harder to reach.
The scenario gets even gloomier when taking into account the Government‟s 3rd Annual
Progress Report on the Fuel Poverty Strategy (2005) which quantified the extent to which each
mitigation measure had contributed to the reductions in fuel poverty up to 2003:

   “61 per cent of the reduction since 1996 can be attributed to improvements in incomes,
   22 per cent of the reductions are attributable to energy prices, while 17 per cent of the
   reduction is attributable to energy efficiency improvements, a sign that initiatives like Warm
   Front are having a significant impact in taking people out of fuel poverty, with contributions
   from other programmes like the Energy Efficiency Commitment (p27).”

The national Fuel Poverty Advisory Group expressed deep concern in a recently published
report, noting that

   “…high energy prices have overshadowed the solid progress, which is being made in a
   number of ways, with the fuel poverty programmes. The number of vulnerable households
   in fuel poverty in England is now expected to rise by as much as 1 million, and hence to
   double, between 2003 and 2006…”

Affordable Warmth is needed more than ever and to deliver affordable warmth everybody‟s
help is needed.
I would like to encourage you to play your part in helping vulnerable households to stay warm
and healthy. Please look at the ‘Take Action Box’ at the end of this bulletin which explains
easy steps you can take in your day to day life. You are also encouraged to take part in the
Devon Affordable Warmth Task Force Programme (see 6) which will reward you for your
efforts with energy efficiency prizes.
 Action is needed now and everybody can help in small ways. Talk to your neighbour, refer
people to advice lines, help Mrs. Smith to change to a cheaper fuel tariff. Simply energise your
ideas to ease the burden on fuel poor households.

I wish you a successful and warm spring.

Martin Eibl
Devon Affordable Warmth Officer


Devon News
1. Energy Buddy in South Hams
Energy Buddy is a new partnership project between South Hams Social Services, Care & Repair
and the Devon Energy Efficiency Advice Centre and is funded by the Energy Saving Trust‟s
Innovation scheme.
The project aims to increase understanding and observation of the links between energy
efficiency and health issues by training home visiting professionals. It is hoped that the project
will increase the uptake of grants to help with energy efficiency. Social care professionals are
accompanied during their home visits by an Energy Advisor, to reinforce the message and give
practical help right in the home. The Energy Advisor is also on hand at Social Services offices
once a week to talk to staff and give advice on energy related matters.
Still in its pilot stage, Energy Buddy has now been running for a month, during which time
there have been 30 referrals for further advice, 12 accompanied home visits and 9 referrals for
insulation grants. It is hoped that in time the project can be rolled out across Devon, helping
reach vulnerable clients across the county.
For more information contact emma-kate@devon-energy-advice.co.uk.


2. Village Energy Rural Action (VERA) in North Devon
An award of £2,000 has been scooped by Westcountry Energy Action for innovating an
affordable warmth project. The Affordable Warmth - Sustainable World Award Scheme is an
award scheme organised by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) and the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in association with npower.
Westcountry Energy Action will be focusing on rural projects in Bishops Nympton and nearby
communities for one week looking at getting energy efficiency measures up and running in
those rural areas. Pat Sykes, Project worker, said: "We are delighted that our hard work and
innovation has paid off and we hope our project can go on to win the overall award."
Westcountry Energy Action could go on to become the national winner and will receive a
further £3,000 to develop the results of their project if they are successful. The national winner
will be chosen by the judging panel on the completion of the regional events. This award
scheme is a great opportunity for voluntary agencies, community groups and local authorities
to demonstrate different ways of tackling fuel poverty in a sustainable way.


3. Save money on your fuel bills… and on your Council Tax in South Hams!
South Hams District Council has introduced a Council Tax rebate for residents that take up
energy efficiency measures offered by British Gas. This scheme pays back £50 off the Council
Tax when householders install loft insulation, cavity-wall insulation or draught proofing. Around
25% of all carbon dioxide emissions come from the household sector making improvements in
domestic energy efficiency key to delivering the Government's carbon emission reduction
targets. However, consumer apathy means that customers are not realising the benefits of
energy efficiency. South Hams District Council estimates that there are 45,000 residents who
could be eligible for £50 rebate on their council tax bill.


4. Fuelstretcher trial in Plymouth - saving energy in sheltered accommodation
Sheltered accommodation staff are reading the gas meter every weekday as part of a trial to
test a new energy efficiency device. 'Fuelstretcher' controls the temperature of boilers based
on flow and return temperatures. It is designed to make savings of 10-20% in energy bills and
will also save carbon dioxide emissions. Six sheltered accommodation schemes are involved in
the trial, which will be completed in mid-March. The trial will measure actual energy savings
over six weeks. EDF Energy has already made a grant offer to the council of up to £10,000,
depending on the result of the trial.
Fuelstretcher will:
reduce fuel costs by £5-7,000 per year
reduce gas consumption by 256-384 MWh per year
reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 14-20 tonnes per year
improve energy efficiency by 11-17%
** an information sheet for officers interested in knowing more about the Fuelstretcher trial is
available from energy@plymouth.gov.uk
5. Plymouth City Council‟s Colin is elected chair of the regional HECA Forum
Colin Anderson has recently been elected chair of the South West HECA Forum to represent all
local authorities in the region. Part of Colin‟s responsibilities will be to plug into the UK HECA
Forum which brings together local authority officers from around the country. This provides an
excellent opportunity for Devon local authorities and its HECA Officers to learn first-hand from
national experience, good practice and policy developments in home energy conservation.
Additional, Colin will be part of a regional steering group that is developing a „low carbon
housing and fuel poverty‟ strategy for the South West and is chaired by the Government Office
at Bristol. Colin will ensure that the strategy recognizes the role of local authorities and adds
value to the work HECA Officers are doing in their day-to-day work.


6. Devon Affordable Warmth Task Force Programme continues!
Launched last December at the Devon Affordable Warmth Action Day this programme
encourages a hands-on approach to deliver warmer homes across Devon. Often, it is a lack of
awareness that households, struggling to keep adequately warm in the home over the cold
months, do not take up any help. As a member of the Affordable Warmth Task Force you can
think of any idea or practical step you can deliver yourself. It could be something like „talking
to your neighbours how to save energy‟ or „promote energy advice lines within your
organisation‟. Anything helps! Write us (martin.eibl@nea.org.uk) what you‟re doing or look at
the AW Task Force website for more information (http://www.dsen.org.uk/index/sub-
groups/domestic/daws/awtaskforce. htm). To help and encourage you we have a few prizes
which are up for grabs:
     Free loft and cavity wall insulation for up to a 4 bed detached house
     Free places on „Fuel Poverty and Energy Awareness‟ training course
     Vouchers for special energy efficient lightbulbs (not the big ones!)
     A meal for 2 at a Beefeater restaurant for the most innovative task idea.
Prizes are kindly sponsored by Miller Pattison, Westcountry Energy Action and Efficientlight.
Deadline for the prize draw is the Monday, 15th May 2006.


 7. Devon Rural Energy Champion a success
Last summer National Energy Action (NEA), the fuel poverty charity, launched the Rural Energy
Champion scheme in Devon. 4 champions were selected in South Hams, Mid Devon, East
Devon and West Devon to help rural communities to keep warm and healthy in their homes.
Katy Kerley (Care Direct), Paul Delahoy (Devon Heartland), Ian Parker (Care & Repair) and
David Kelf (The Spiral) gave presentation and advised a number of residents on saving energy
and money on fuel bills. Over the last 6 months the champions have reached out to almost 800
householders across Devon, organised over 25 community events to inform about grants and
advice, and visited over 80 people in their homes. This scheme proved very successful to reach
out to rural communities that often do not have access to services and advise. It is hoped that
this rural energy champion scheme will continue. A big thanks to the rural energy champions
who put a lot effort into this project.


8. Join a warm Yoga lesson in Northleigh Village Hall in East Devon
National Energy Action (NEA) have worked closely with Peter Symes, Chairman of Northleigh
Village Hall, to improve the thermal comfort for community groups that use the village hall for
meetings and courses such as Yoga classes. Following an initial survey of the building by Stuart
Coleman (DARE), funded by the East Devon AONB Sustainable Development Fund, key
recommendations were made to improve the energy performance of the building. The most
critical aspect of this was to improve heat retention through insulation work. Loft insulation
was thought to be the only practicable measure to implement and NEA identified a local
insulation contractor to deliver the work. This fits in with NEA‟s objective to use local specialists
wherever possible. After a site survey they were also able to estimate for wall insulation which
was not initially thought to be viable. As this fell within NEA‟s Community Building Scheme
budget the work to insulate the loft and external shell was completed in February 2006. A
second key recommendation was to improve the ventilation in the building. A local firm will
install a positive input ventilation unit. This system introduces warm filtered air from the loft to
replace humid and contaminated air. The system has been shown to tackle condensation and
improve air quality and subsequently health of users within buildings. This work will be
completed in April 2006. NEA have lobbied government for many years to respond to the
funding issues faced by the large number of community buildings throughout the UK. These
buildings which are often the lifeblood of a community are excluded from many of the major
grant schemes to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in the UK. If you like
to learn more about the NEA‟ Community Building Scheme please contact NEA‟s Regional Co-
ordinator Martin Eibl on 01752 235 183.


9. Family Energy Benefit Support Project
Westcountry Energy Action has won a bid with ScottishPower Energy People Trust to run the
Family Energy and Benefit Support (FEBS) scheme. FEBS will enhance the existing scheme,
„Healthier Homes, North Devon‟ which is currently run by a part time energy project worker
who manages a grant assisted loft and cavity wall insulation scheme. It will provide local
energy efficiency advice services and work with a benefits entitlement advisor to ensure uptake
of available qualifying benefits, and promotes sustainable energy policy at all levels. FEBS will
specifically target families with young children and young people, located in wards where there
is high incidence of fuel poverty and low income households. The project will ensure the most
vulnerable and hard-to-reach residents will be reached, by developing strong local referral
networks and co-ordinating „grass-roots‟ agencies. For more information on this scheme
please contact Jeff Bolton on jeff@devon-energy-advice.co.uk.

10. South West develops Low Carbon Housing & Fuel Poverty Strategy
The Government Office for the South West is chairing a regional steering group that develops a
South West „Low Carbon Housing & Fuel Poverty‟ strategy. Stakeholders from across the region
are committed to help the South West to become one of the few English regions that develops
a strategic action plan for fuel poverty on a regional level. Since the publication of the UK Fuel
Poverty Strategy in 2001, the Government has been urging regional agencies to proactively
engage in the fuel poverty agenda. In the South West, NEA has been lobbying Government
agencies to develop an action plan to support local action on the ground. With funding from the
Energy Saving Trust a regional strategy is currently developed which has the aim to bring
together regional Government agencies as well as regional and local organisations to explore
current barriers in the delivery of warmer, low carbon homes and also what additional actions
need to happen on all levels to address the environmental and the social dimensions of poor
housing. If you like to know more about the regional strategy please contact Martin Eibl,
Regional Co-ordinator for NEA on martin.eibl@nea.org.uk.

11. Regional Public Health Group and NEA launch Guidance Note at Fuel Poverty Forum
The South West Fuel Poverty Forum saw the launch of a Guidance Note for Primary Care Trust,
health professionals and local partnerships. This guide was jointly developed by the Regional
Public Health Group and National Energy Action (NEA) to encourage health and social care
professionals to get involved in the eradication of fuel poverty. It is front line staff in health
and social care who deals with the most vulnerable in our society. Thus, they are placed ideally
to inform householders about help to keep warm and healthy in the home. This guidance note
explains the links between health, poverty and poor housing; it illustrates how health and
social care professionals can practically take part in the fuel poverty agenda; and it gives an
overview about the help and services available for fuel poor households to reduce fuel bills and
keep the home adequately warm. If you like to have a copy of the guidance note you can
download it from www.swpho.org.uk or www.nea.org.uk, or send an email to
martin.eibl@nea.org.uk.


12. Regional Assembly scrutinises fuel poverty activities in the South West
The South West Regional Assembly currently reviews sustainable energy in the region as part
of the Regional Strategic Reviews with the South West Regional Development Agency. Part of
the review will focus on domestic energy efficiency and fuel poverty. A workshop was held on
11th April at Somerset County Cricket Club, Taunton to listen to concerns and ideas from local
organisations and practitioners. If you like to find out more about the Regional Assembly‟s
scrutiny on fuel poverty in the South West please contact Hannah Still on 01823 425 202 or
email Hannah.Still@southwest-ra.gov.uk.


13. Energy savings begin at home, DTI says
- Sunday, 22 January 2006, The Independent
 Greater energy efficiency for households and transport will be promoted in the Government's
long-awaited Energy Review, which will be launched tomorrow. The initiative will propose
grants for the "fuel poor" – poorer households - to insulate their homes and cut down on
carbon emissions. The consultation with business and the public will last three months and
focus on five main areas: nuclear power; renewable forms of energy such as wind; energy
efficiency; reducing carbon emissions; and fuel poverty. Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that
he wants a decision on the main question - whether to build more nuclear stations to replace
old reactors and coal-fired plants - by the summer. The review comes after the chief executive
of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, Jeroen van der Veer, admitted it would be another 20 to 30
years before renewable forms of energy became "really big business". One chief executive of a
UK company, which is developing renewable such energy projects as wind and landfill gas,
argued that there was little incentive for large oil companies to develop renewable projects
more quickly. He said that because the scale of the projects is tiny compared to the majors'
core oil and gas businesses, renewables were not a priority. For example, BP's Alternative
Energy division generated $400m (£226m) of revenue in 2004 out of total annual revenues of
$200bn. In contrast, "it's hard for smaller companies to raise funds to develop renewable
technologies," he added. Energy analyst Nigel Hawkins said Shell realised that long-term
investment in renewables could provide an alternative source of revenue if profits from selling
oil fell in the future. However, he added: "Oil companies also realise the PR value of
emphasising their environmental credentials." A spokesman for BP said it would be "some
years to come" before its Alternative Energy division played a key role in its business. "We do
not pretend that the investment is material at this stage." Last week, the price of carbon
increased by almost a fifth to EUR27 (£18.50) per ton to move close to its record high of
EUR29 per ton. Higher gas prices following cold weather in Europe and concerns over supply
from Russia have encouraged power stations to switch to coal. Greater energy efficiency for
households and transport will be promoted in the Government's long-awaited Energy Review,
which will be launched tomorrow. The initiative will propose grants for the "fuel poor" - poorer
households - to insulate their homes and cut down on carbon emissions. The consultation with
business and the public will last three months and focus on five main areas: nuclear power;
renewable forms of energy such as wind; energy efficiency; reducing carbon emissions; and
fuel poverty. Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that he wants a decision on the main question
- whether to build more nuclear stations to replace old reactors and coal-fired plants - by the
summer. The review comes after the chief executive of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, Jeroen van
der Veer, admitted it would be another 20 to 30 years before renewable forms of energy
became "really big business". One chief executive of a UK company, which is developing
renewable such energy projects as wind and landfill gas, argued that there was little incentive
for large oil companies to develop renewable projects more quickly. He said that because the
scale of the projects is tiny compared to the majors' core oil and gas businesses, renewables
were not a priority. For example, BP's Alternative Energy division generated $400m (£226m)
of revenue in 2004 out of total annual revenues of $200bn. In contrast, "it's hard for smaller
companies to raise funds to develop renewable technologies," he added. Energy analyst Nigel
Hawkins said Shell realised that long-term investment in renewables could provide an
alternative source of revenue if profits from selling oil fell in the future. However, he added:
"Oil companies also realise the PR value of emphasising their environmental credentials." A
spokesman for BP said it would be "some years to come" before its Alternative Energy division
played a key role in its business. "We do not pretend that the investment is material at this
stage." Last week, the price of carbon increased by almost a fifth to EUR27 (£18.50) per ton to
move close to its record high of EUR29 per ton. Higher gas prices following cold weather in
Europe and concerns over supply from Russia have encouraged power stations to switch to
coal. By Tim Webb

14. Fuel Poverty Advisory Group urges for Government intervention in energy price hike
The independent Fuel Poverty Advisory Group (FPAG) has published its 4th Annual Report in
March. The report highlights the common concern among campaigners that recent fuel price
increases are threatening the Government‟s ambition to eradicate fuel poverty by 2010 for
vulnerable households and by 2016 for all other households. FPAG strongly advises the
Government to consider all options for securing a reduction and preventing a recurrence of
rising fuel prices. On the positive side, FPAG welcomes the increase in Warm Front resources,
announced in the Pre-Budget report. With help from DTI and Defra officials, FPAG has updated
the estimates of the resources required to meet the 2010 statutory fuel poverty targets. Even
on the reasonably optimistic assumption that gas prices, in particular, will move down from
current levels, a further increase of at least 25%-30% in resources – nearly an extra £1bn – is
needed to 2010, over and above the increases announced in the Pre-Budget Report.
The full report can be downloaded from
http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/consumers/fuel_poverty/fuel_adv_grp.shtml

15. Budget 2006 and fuel poverty
The Government is committed to delivering a strong economy based not just on high and
stable levels of growth and employment but also on high standards of environmental care. This
Budget sets out the next stage in the Government's strategy for tackling the global challenge
of climate change including:

* encouraging energy efficiency in the business sector through an increase in the climate
change levy, in line with inflation, from 1 April 2007;

* further measures to improve household energy efficiency, including an extra 250,000
installations of subsidised insulation in British homes over the next two years, funding for local
authority-led publicity and incentive schemes, trialing the use of 'smart' energy meters, and a
new voluntary initiative with major retailers to reduce the energy use of consumer electronics;

* the development of a new National Institute of Energy Technologies, in partnership with the
private sector, to better leverage the substantial public sector funding of energy research;

* further support for the development of alternative energy sources, including an additional
£50 million to develop microgeneration technologies and the launch of a consultation document
on the barriers to large-scale commercial deployment in the UK of carbon capture and storage;

* further detail on the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation to increase the use of biofuels -
with the obligation set at 2.5 per cent in 2008-09 and
3.75 per cent in 2009-10, and the biofuels duty incentive maintained at 20 pence per litre in
2008-09;

* reforms to vehicle excise duty (VED) to sharpen environmental incentives including reducing
the rate to zero for cars with the very lowest carbon emissions and introducing a new top band
for the most polluting new cars. 50 per cent of cars will see their VED frozen or reduced; and

* the deferral to 1 September 2006 of the inflation-only increase in main road fuel duties,
reflecting continuing volatility in the oil market; and the same increase of 1.25 pence per litre,
also from 1 September 2006, in duty for rebated fuels, maintaining the differential with main
fuel duty rates to support the Oils Strategy.
http://budget2006.treasury.gov.uk/


16. Scottish Executive supports micro-renewables initiative in Scotland
More than £30,000 will be saved annually in household energy bills as a result of domestic
micro-renewable power schemes supported by Scottish Executive funding last year, it has
emerged. A total of 215 micro-renewable home projects, including solar water heating and
ground source heat pumps, were supported by the Scottish Community and Householder
Renewables Initiative in 2004-05. Nearly £2.5 million has been made available for the
current financial year after ministers topped up the fund by £250,000 in September to meet
demand ahead of a new round of allocations from April. The Executive has estimated that
household projects funded during 2004-05 to replace traditional fossil fuel-run equipment have
delivered annual savings worth £31,706 and an estimated total saving of £408,311 over the
lifetime of the various technologies. A total of 106 solar water heating systems were installed
with grant aid, while 80 ground source heat pumps were supported. The initiative also assisted
the construction of 17 wind turbines, 11 biomass systems and one solar space project.
Enterprise minister Nicole Stephen released the figures - which exclude community projects –
following a parliamentary question by Scottish Green co-convener and energy spokeswoman
Shiona Baird, who demanded much greater support for micro-renewables. Ms Baird is
proposing a Holyrood Bill to give householders and businesses council tax breaks and business
rates rebates in return for installing renewable energy devices such as solar roofs and mini-
wind turbines. It would also require all new buildings to be installed with solar panels on their
roofs and it would set targets for expanding micropower across Scotland's local authority
areas. With the UK Government due to launch a fresh consultation on the power industry amid
speculation of a hard sell for atomic energy, Ms Baird said the latest figures showed there was
no need for new nuclear generation.


17. Ofgem tells energy customers to switch – Times Online, 6 February 2006
The energy regulator has urged consumers to switch energy supplier following the news that
British Gas intends to increase residential gas prices by as much as 25 per cent in the coming
weeks. In a move many observers will view as criticism of British Gas, Ofgem said that
customers who have never switched supplier could save around £100 by doing so. "Higher
energy prices mean getting the best deal for your energy has never been so important,"
Alistair Buchanan, the chief executive of Ofgem, said. "Our message to customers is to be
energy smart and take advantage of the strong competition in the energy market to get
yourself a better deal. "There are savings of around £100 a year and suppliers are also
competing for your business by offering fixed-price and internet deals," he added.
Yesterday, Age Concern described British Gas‟s potential 25 per cent price rise as "shocking",
"unjustified" and "excessive" and called on Ofgem to investigate whether the move was
legitimate. But today the regulator refused to explicitly condemn the energy giant, saying it
was not in its remit to investigate price rises if they were caused by market forces.
"At the moment, domestic customers in this country have the lowest gas prices in Europe," an
Ofgem spokesman said. The regulator also insisted that the energy market is competitive and
pointed out that British Gas continues to lose market share. "British Gas lost six per cent
market share between June 2004 and June 2006," Ofgem said, adding that company now has
"only" 53 per cent of the market. Paul Kenny, acting general secretary of the GMB union,
criticised Ofcom and called for the Government to "get a grip" over the energy market.
"The GMB have long warned that the lack of central planning and control in the energy market
would leave the British consumer totally at the mercy of global forces. "We have argued that
energy is too important to be regulated by a quango. The Government itself must be the
regulator and be accountable to Parliament for that role. Adam Scorer, the campaigns director
of energywatch, called on British Gas‟s 11 million customers to abandon the company should it
implement the price rise. "Should a major supplier, British Gas or anybody else, raise prices by
25 per cent, we would expect consumers to respond angrily, by leaving for a better deal," he
said. "Such a rise would be unprecedented since the start of competition," he added.
The GMB have long warned that the lack of central planning and control in the energy market
would leave the British consumer totally at the mercy of global forces. "We have argued that
energy is too important to be regulated by a quango. The Government itself must be the
regulator and be accountable to Parliament for that role. Adam Scorer, the campaigns director
of energywatch, called on British Gas‟s 11 million customers to abandon the company should it
implement the price rise. "Should a major supplier, British Gas or anybody else, raise prices by
25 per cent, we would expect consumers to respond angrily, by leaving for a better deal," he
said.
[Note of Editor: Over the last 6 months all major fuel suppliers – not only British Gas - have
increased their prices! This article tries to highlight Ofgem‟s position to the price development.
If you are interested to know how much your fuel supplier increased the prices then click on
http://www.energywatch.org.uk/media/news/show_release.asp?article_id=952].


18. Ofgem seeks to unlock the potential of smart meters in the home
* Smart meters can deliver more accurate bills and improvements in customer service
* New meters could help tackle greenhouse gas emissions by making customers more aware of
energy consumption
* Hi-tech meters could help fuel poor customers on prepayment meters by providing cheaper
alternatives A new initiative aimed at unlocking the potential of smart meters for all gas and
electricity customers was announced today (Wednesday) by Ofgem's Chairman, Sir John Mogg.
The technology of many energy meters dates from the 1960s, but modern designs can give
customers much more information in a way that is easy to understand. Modern meters can
display energy consumption in pounds and pence so customers can see at-a-glance how much
they are using.
This can help encourage customers to use energy more efficiently. Billing accuracy can be
improved by smart meters as they eliminate meter reading and send accurate readings direct
to suppliers, in that way ending the need for estimated bills. Such newer, more reliable
prepayment meters could also lead to cheaper costs for those customers who use these
meters. This would particularly benefit the fuel poor. Smart meters could help support micro-
generation by metering the amount of energy a household might sell back to the electricity
network. Micro generation and encouraging energy efficiency can thus make a real
contribution to reducing greenhouse gases.
Given this potential to revolutionise the way energy is used in the home, Ofgem is seeking, in
partnership with the industry and consumer organisations, to establish a clear picture of the
costs and benefits of smart meters and to help develop its strategy over the next six months
for increasing their use. Ofgem is kicking off the debate with a launch today
(Wednesday) hosted by Sir John. It is aimed at securing a high level commitment by industry
and consumer groups to take a detailed look at smart metering. Sir John said: "We recognise
that there are benefits to customers from using smart meters, but with the significant
investment costs involved to deliver them, we need hard evidence to show how such benefits
can be delivered. This is why Ofgem is powering the smart metering debate so we can
separate the myths from the facts. We will be working with the industry and consumers to
deliver a smarter future for the household energy meter."
http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/temp/ofgem/cache/cmsattach/13747_r4_01feb05.pdf?wtfrom=/ofg
em/press/pressrelease-list.jsp


19. Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy
- Wednesday, 8 February 2006 – The Independent
Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to
wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear
power stations. The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first
practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics,
farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months.
The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with
renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge
new price rises. "Our dependency on oil should be broken by 2020," said Mona Sahlin, minister
of sustainable development. "There shall always be better alternatives to oil, which means no
house should need oil for heating, and no driver should need to turn solely to gasoline."
According to the energy committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, there is
growing concern that global oil supplies are peaking and will shortly dwindle, and that a global
economic recession could result from high oil prices. Ms Sahlin has described oil dependency as
one of the greatest problemsfacing the world. "A Sweden free of fossil fuels would give us
enormous advantages, not least by reducing the impact from fluctuations in oil prices," she
said. "The price of oil has tripled since 1996." A government official said: "We want to be both
mentally and technically prepared for a world without oil. The plan is a response to global
climate change, rising petroleum prices and warnings by some experts that the world may
soon be running out of oil." Sweden, which was badly hit by the oil price rises in the 1970s,
now gets almost all its electricity from nuclear and hydroelectric power, and relies on fossil
fuels mainly for transport. Almost all its heating has been converted in the past decade to
schemes which distribute steam or hot water generated by geothermal energy or waste heat. A
1980 referendum decided that nuclear power should be phased out, but this has still not been
finalised. The decision to abandon oil puts Sweden at the top of the world green league table.
Iceland hopes by 2050 to power all its cars and boats with hydrogen made from electricity
drawn from renewable resources, and Brazil intends to power 80% of its transport fleet
with ethanol derived mainly from sugar cane within five years. Last week George Bush
surprised analysts by saying that the US was addicted to oil and should greatly reduce imports
from the Middle East. The US now plans a large increase in nuclear power. The British
government, which is committed to generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources
by 2012, last month launched an energy review which has a specific remit to consider a
large increase in nuclear power. But a report by accountants Ernst & Young yesterday said that
the UK was falling behind in its attempt to meet its renewables target. "The UK has Europe's
best wind, wave and tidal resources yet it continues to miss out on its economic potential,"
said Jonathan Johns, head of renewable energy at Ernst & Young. Energy ministry officials
in Sweden said they expected the oil committee to recommend further development of bio
fuels derived from its massive forests, and by expanding other renewable energies such as
wind and have power. Sweden has a head start over most countries. In 2003, 26% of all the
energy consumed came from renewable sources - the EU average is 6%. Only 32% of the
energy came from oil - down from 77% in 1970. The Swedish government is working with
carmakers Saab and Volvo to develop cars and lorries that burn ethanol and other biofuels.
Last year the Swedish energy agency said it planned to get the public sector to move out of oil.
Its health and library services are being given grants to convert from oil use and homeowners
are being encouraged with green taxes. The paper and pulp industries use bark to produce
energy, and saw mills burn wood chips and dust to generate power.
John Vidal


20. Report on smart meters
This is a major new report on smart energy meters in the residential sector in the UK. It
reports on a multi-sponsor project carried out for Sustainability First by Dr. Gill Owen and
Judith Ward. Sponsors of this study include five of the main UK energy suppliers - EdF Energy,
Eon, RWE-npower, Scottish and Southern Energy and Centrica - the Energy Saving Trust,
energywatch, IBM Business Consulting and Ampy Meters. The project set out to assess the
costs and benefits of smart metering in the UK, to consider the structure and operation of the
UK metering market, to assess the UK case for smart meters in the light of international
experience, especially on energy saving, and to identify policy and regulatory changes
needed to secure wider uptake of smart meters. The report identifies smart meters as an
important gateway :
* For energy suppliers - to improve market operation through better ways of tackling energy
management, and, creating new retail opportunities.
* For SMEs and households - to achieve energy savings through improved feedback on energy
consumption and expenditure; to develop demand-response at an individual level ; and, to
develop new scope for micro-generation.
The study finds that the significant opportunities, both for suppliers and for consumers, risk not
being realised because the present commercial, policy and regulatory framework combine to
create an inertia which acts against significant meter-stock upgrade or technological change.
Little is likely to happen to stimulate smart-meter installation at the residential or SME-level in
the UK without additional measures. The report concludes that clear policy and regulatory
pathways are needed. The Energy Review and a new European Directive on Energy End-Use
Efficiency offer the opportunity to develop firm recommendations and a clear policy road-map
for delivery of smart energy meters in the UK. Concerted leadership from DTI will be needed,
with appropriate support from DEFRA and Ofgem. The report is published on the Sustainability
First web site together with detailed appendices - www.sustainabilityfirst.org.uk



TAKE ACTION BOX – Warmer Homes for All in Devon

What you can do to reduce your fuel bill and make your home warm and comfortable!
Measure                  Description                         Costs              Advice & Contact
Energy Efficiency        Insulation of walls and roof to     Dependent on       Devon EEAC
- insulation             save energy and reduce fuel         household          0800 512 012
                         bills.                              circumstances.
                                                             There are grant
                                                             and discount
                                                             schemes
                                                             available.

Energy Efficiency        E.g. draught proofing, using the    No costs.          Devon EEAC
- low cost & no cost     washing machine less                (Material costs    0800 512 012
tips                     frequently, get low energy light    for draught
                         bulbs, switching off stand-by       proofing.)
                         appliances etc.

Heating system           Gas, electric or oil central        Only qualifying    Warm Front
improvements             heating, repairs to existing        households on      0800 316 2814
                         heating system, converting          certain benefits
                         solid-fuel open fire to a glass-    can access this
                         fronted fire.                       grant scheme.

Boiler replacement       Magic Boiler scheme offers a        Discounts and      Devon EEAC
                         range of boilers to a discounted    £30 cash back.     0800 512 012
                         price and also offers £30 cash
                       back if you go through the
                       scheme.

Fuel supplier switch   Although all major fuel supplier     No costs, but    Energywatch
                       have increased their prices, it is   savings.         08459 06 07 08
                       still worth shopping around. You
                       can potentially pay less for your
                       energy and save around £200
                       pa by getting the best deal.

Social tariffs         Some fuel suppliers offer special    No costs, but    Energywatch
                       tariffs for certain costumers        savings.         08459 06 07 08
                       (elderly, disabled people, etc.),
                       e.g. price cap or price freeze
                       over winter months etc.

Priority Service       Free services from fuel suppliers    No costs, but    Energywatch
Register               are available to vulnerable          potential        08459 06 07 08
                       customers when they sign up to       savings.
                       the Priority Register Service.
                       This can include free annual gas
                       safety checks and a protection
                       against disconnection from
                       energy supply.

Income maximisation    Many households do not claim         No costs, but    Care Direct
                       the benefits they are entitled to.   more             0800 444 000
                       Often, being in receipt of certain   household
                       benefits not only helps with         income.
                       paying for high fuel bills, but
                       also enables the householder to
                       qualify for energy efficiency
                       grants from the Government
                       and fuel suppliers.

Winter fuel payment    Payment from the Government          £200 (over 60)   Winter Fuel
                       available for all over 60.           £300 (over 80)   Payment Helpline
                                                                             08459 15 15 15

Landlords Energy       Landlords can claim up to            £1,500 pa per    Devon EEAC
Saving Allowance       £1,500 from their tax when they      property +       0800 512 012
                       invest in energy efficiency          grants for
                       measures. Some local                 energy
                       authorities also offer grants        efficiency
                       towards condensing boilers,          measures
                       cavity wall & loft insulation, and
                       DIY draught proofing materials.
Fuel supplier trusts                   British Gas/EDF Energy Trusts                            Grants towards      Charis Grant (EDF
                                       offer grants to help households                          meeting fuel        and British Gas
                                       struggling to pay their fuel bills.                      bills/fuel debts.   energy trusts)
                                       Applicants must be customer                                                  01733 421021
                                       with EDF or British Gas.

PRINT ME OFF AND SHARE ME WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!
Please call the appropriate advice line!
If you have any queries about this leaflet call the Devon Affordable Warmth Officer on 01752 235 183.                      DAWO April 2006




Table: Price increase for electricity and gas – January 2003 to March 2006 (Energy watch)
Gas                                            Average annual bills
Supplier                                       % increase                                                 Jan-03        Mar-06
British Gas                                    70.0%                                                      £370          £628
EDF                                            61.2%                                                      £324          £539
npower                                         60.4%                                                      £329          £536
Powergen                                       75.2%                                                      £311          £544
Scottish Power                                 51.2%                                                      £319          £532
SSE                                            39%                                                        £326          £453
Across GB**                                    63.3%                                                      £330          £539

Electricity                                    Average annual bills
Supplier                                       % increase                                                 Jan-03        Mar-06
British Gas                                    65.40%                                                     £237          £391
EDF                                            42.50%                                                     £240          £331
npower                                         44.60%                                                     £234          £362
Powergen                                       47.80%                                                     £241          £358
Scottish Power                                 up to 38.5%*                                               £251          £337
SSE                                            up to 32%*                                                 £246          £313
Across GB**                                    44.2%                                                      £242          £349

				
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