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17 responses to “Watchdog interview”

    • James

      I have a question about Ecotricity’s tariffs and price structure, that you might like to answer. I would like to know why a green energy company that explicitly encourages customers to save energy has a price structure that rewards customers who use more electricity.

      Rather than having a flat charge for units, like EBICo’s Equipower tariff, Ecotricity charges significantly more for the first 1000kWh than it does for additional kWh. This actually encourages increased electricity consumption by rewarding customers who use more electricity. The more electricity you use, the cheaper the average price of unit of electricity.

      Living in a flat that is not connected to gas, I significantly exceed 1000kWh daytime units, so I am not directly effected by this. However, it does seem inconsistent with Ecotricity’s business ethics that there is no real incentive for customers to reduce their consumption below 1000 kWh of day time electricity usage.

    • James

      By any chance is there a YouTube version of the video, the sods don’t let people outside of the UK view it. Either that or anyone know a good proxy that will let me get around it?

      Thanks,
      =-)

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Dale, there *are* people using less than 1MWh per billing cycle that therefore pay effectively ~20p/kWh and are penalised for doing so: I am one of them and your customer. B^>

      Even ignoring our PV microgen we’re generally using only about 6kWh/day or less for our family of 3 (well 4 as of this month), which on a quarterly billing cycle is… Yep, all in the highest charge band. Even with the newborn and all the extra washing, etc, that he induces we’re still only hitting 9kWh/day. Maybe in fact we’re getting a discount on our standing charges this way but it does still feel wrong. I think that charging rates should be stepped upwards with monthly usage like a progressive tax system, with anyone over 500kWh/month on HH/ToD and/or spike-sensitive and/or other grid-state-sensitive metering to coerce a little bit of planet-friendly thinking…

      In fact, with our gas I chose a tariff with a standing charge and flat unit rate to eliminate the billing perverse incentive.

      Rgds

      Damon

    • paul

      Hi James,

      Hmm – not a lot we can do to help with that sorry – BBC don’t take kindly to having their footage up on Youtube either, so unless someone puts it up independently – we can’t help with that one.

      WRT to other methods – Google search is probably the best suggestion I can legally offer. Sorry! (and besides – they cut Dale’s interview anyway 🙁 )

    • Mike

      I know it’s not your fault, the rules say, etc..

      I can’t see how this is a “apples with apples” situation however. Some suppliers charge the first 1200kWh/year, some 750, at the higher rate. If a customer uses a dual rate meter, there are three rates to compare. Some suppliers charge charge a much higher rate than others for the “night” or “off peak” units.

      Price comparison is a minefield and the only way to make the decision is by following the carbon footprints!

    • Matt

      @ James. The pricing structure in your example is for the first 1000KWH per year. So this actually works out at 2.7 units per day. So infact it is 250kwh per billing cycle (quarter). I cant think of anyone who would not use less than 2.7kwh per day, lights, refrigerator etc would use this much surely.

      Cheers

    • Martin

      My electricity consumption is roughly 4.5 kWh per day, but because I use economy 7 with about 45% of my usage being at night rate, my day usage is quite close to the 2.7 daily/1000kWh yearly figure. Reducing energy consumption is very important to me, and I do expect my yearly consumption to fall below the 1000kWh figure sometime in the near future, as I make improvements to my home.

      Financial I am quite stretched, and I am tempted to move to another energy supplier with a smaller initial peak rate band, such as the npower juice 2, which has an initial peak rate figure of 900kWh. I am loathed to do this, because I do support the underlying ecotricity philosophy, and have deferred the decision until the new year, when the new lower tariffs are introduced.

      My situation does illustrate that the 1000kWh figure is actually not that low, and as improvements to consumer appliances feed through to households, more people (at least savvy users with economy 7) could actually end up using below this figure.

    • Jeffrey Lam

      It appears that the episode, is now no longer available on the bbc site 🙁
      @ James/Martin, this seems a little counter-intuitive (and I’m not 100% convinced about this myself), but for those who get their day consumption below 1000kWh per year, in some way it could encourage further saving.
      As soon as you hit the higher price, every kWh you cut saves you even more. If you can get the day units down to zero, then you would only be paying for your night units surely? (I know this is almost impossible)
      Great news for people who can reduce their consumption, though perhaps not so great news for your electricity supplier…

    • Martin

      @Jeffrey.
      Ecotricity night units currently cost less than a quarter of the peak rate day units, which is a big incentive to get as much consumption on the low rate period as possible. And a lot of demand can be transferred to the night period with a little imagination, for example I use a slow cooker linked to a timer during the E7 low period.

      From an electricity generation perspective it makes sense to transfer the daily peak rate demand (roughly 4PM to 8PM) to a quieter period, our whole national grid is set-up to provide for a peak rate demand, along with a safety overhead. If the peak demand is reduced/displaced we need fewer power stations, which could mean big cost savings, and less energy uncertainty, so maybe not so bad news for the electricity supplier…

      Unfortunately we don’t seem to be producing any domestic appliances that are E7 or peak rate demand aware, for example fridge/freezers that chill right down prior to the end of the E7 low rate period. This sort of approach would be bottom up, reducing/managing consumption rather than building ever more generation capacity.

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Hi Dale,

      Well, I’m pleased to be wrong if I am, but your new SAP system produces some very bizarre bills including taking 47 units off the lower rate and recharging them at the higher rate on our last bill, etc etc, … And after PV microgen we are at about 1MWh net over a year, and I expect to go negative from Feb when we expand our PV system.

      I suggest that you offer one more ‘elective’ rate that any of your customers can switch to (in normal and ‘100% green’ variants) that (a) has a standing charge that covers your fixed costs for admin, DNOs, etc, so you are break-even if we never use a unit, and then (b) has a flat or gently-rising progerssive rate per kWh.

      Really, I’d like a further smart metering tarrif from you so that we can pay something like in proportion to the HH wholesale rate (to give you a fixed %age operating margin) plus an extra margin for kWh carbon intensity in each HH slot, with support to turn off some circuits not in use automatically as we approach peak rate/intensity ie so that if our washing machine is running it doesn’t get stopped mid-cycle but is otherwise off until energy is more readily available in a simple form of dynamic demand control. Plus you could pay us for our microgen at spot wholesale rates which is closer to what it might be worth to you. All of that would definitely help us be greener and ensure that you have more money on hand for more turbine building.

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Matt

      Hey Damon.

      The proposals you put forward are very interesting but i think a large amount of infrastructure work would be required before a lot of those schemes would be possible.

      On the microgen side of things the units themselves are worth nothing because Ecotricity do not take ownership of the electricity,nobody can unless you install a proper export meter that records half hourly data and is registered in the settlements system (sorry this is not a simple explanation). The cost of such a meter is about £1500 per year – way more than the value of excess power in domestic situations.
      And so the power is disregarded by ‘the system’.

      The 10p per unit that you get paid under the Renewable Rewards scheme is for the ROCs awarded for the generation of renewable energy not the units themselves.

      Am i right here Dale?

      Cheers

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Absolutely agreed that it need works but (a) it already is been done in various parts of the world so there’s some experience and economy of scale to be had already (b) it’s coming anyway to some extent by 2010 in the UK (c) there’s no reason at all why a 2-way 1-phase interactive meter (ie with the user and on-line to the DNO and end supplier/purchaser) made in million-off quantities would cost anything like £1500 including labour to fit it.

      In my wild and mis-spent youth I discovered more-or-less accidentally what happens to electronics costs when you start thinking in millions of units for end-consumers, and asian manufacturing is involved! B^>

      Rgds

      Damon

    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Ah Dale,

      I was rather hoping you’d confess that you had a secret stash of them already and you’d let your supplicants … ahem … customers be guinea pigs.

      Rgds

      Damon