Main Energy Providers Drop Their ‘Green’ Schemes
This news has sparked a wide debate that questions whether or not energy providers have an obligation to be ‘green’, and what this means for prospective and current customers. The change threatens to undermine the government’s endeavours to promote the UK as a key eco-warrior, and with such a limited choice customers may now also find it difficult to compare electricity and gas prices to find the most eco-friendly tariffs, thus compromising the urge to help fight climate change as individuals.
Earlier this year in July, Npower announced that it was abandoning its domestic green electricity tariff for new customers. EDF, E-ON, SSE and Scottish Power are also no longer offering a domestic green tariff for those wanting to switch, meaning that consumers are now extremely limited when it comes to opting for green energy from the biggest, most well-known and sometimes more trusted companies. Such news is devastating to the national efforts for climate change, reflecting poorly on the UK’s biggest energy providers. Ed Gill, head of external affairs at Good Energy, expressed concerns that such a drastic shift within the energy tariff market is neither in the interests of energy consumers nor the wider population of the UK. With the main six energy companies supplying the large majority of electricity and gas, their respective roles within the national and international drive for climate change hold the potential to be amongst the most substantial, but these have now been compromised. Many people within the UK are keen to do their bit for climate change, but now that fewer energy providers are providing greener alternatives, the potential to do so has been severely restricted.
However, within these criticisms there may be an element of customer interest at the heart of energy suppliers. For instance, by removing green tariffs from the various options available, the choice on offer becomes easier to understand for those looking to compare prices on electricity and gas bills. Eco-friendly schemes will still be on offer from many smaller companies, meaning that the option is still available for those who desire it. It will just no longer be provided by the leading suppliers, who seek to make their products and services easier to understand and thus more customer-friendly.
In addition to this, there are fears that recent price rises in energy may be due at least in part to these special eco-friendly tariffs. Npower recently published research that predicted the average household bill per year will rise by £240 by 2020, making the average annual cost climb to £1,487. Many have criticised the large main energy companies for such price increases, as they do not correlate with the profits that are currently being widely enjoyed by suppliers, but according to Npower such boosts in cost are actually due to the mounting cost of the government’s recent green policies. Customers regularly voice anxieties over rising fuel costs, citing financial concerns as the main problem to tackle, and this to some degree might justify the actions of most of the main energy providers. These dominant energy companies supply the majority of the UK with gas and electricity, meaning that they need to deliver a popular service to the masses by listening and responding to their many customers.
The decision by the various energy companies to axe eco-friendly tariffs may seem initially a bad choice, but attempts to justify the move in direction may have some substance. The debate is complex, as claims made by various energy companies are regularly disputed. Government ministers, for example, do not see enough truth within the idea that eco-friendly tariffs are behind price increases in energy bills. The issue begs the question of whether companies have a duty to satisfy their individual customers with lower prices, or help tackle the wider issue of climate change. If a choice has to be made, is it more important to remain eco-friendly or customer-friendly? Many customers feel the need to switch energy suppliers when costs become too steep, but this could also be said of those disillusioned with a lack of eco-friendly tariffs. In an age where it is easy to compare electricity and gas prices, customers are constantly scouring out the most cost-effective deals, and in a similar sense, it is possible that many may also increasingly turn to the smaller suppliers who are still able to provide ‘green’ deals.