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Dump the Big Six
Go on you know you want to…

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For most of last year, and continuing quite unabated into this New Year, the mood in our country has turned very much against the Big Six energy companies. And it’s not hard to see why. People are fed up with the unethical pricing, complex tariffs, awful customer service and the dire lack of investment in new sources of green energy. It’s become quite unbearable, self evidently. Even the government are calling on people to leave the Big Six.

We’ve just launched a campaign on that front. It’s called ‘Dump The Big Six’.

And, as befits an organisation such as ecotricity, it’s not a big budget TV campaign – it’s taking place online, through digitally enabled People:Power – social media.

The campaign’s crumbling cooling towers are symbols of a passing era, of an old industrial approach to energy production – through burning fossil fuels. The overwhelming feeling this animation gives me is that it’s ‘time to move on’ – as a country we need to, and as people we need to. We’re calling on Britons to ‘Dump The Big Six’ and the old way of doing things (they’re inseparable after all) and to instead be a part of a revolution – one where People Power brings about something so axiomatically right for Britain – (Green) energy independence.

It’s our first campaign on this scale and it marks a watershed. We’ve spent the last few years putting in place the processes and infrastructure to enable us to dramatically scale up our work. Our very deliberate plan was to be very good at what we did before we tried to get big. And we feel we’ve achieved that now.

We feel it’s time now to take on the Big Six. We’re ready and perhaps, now more than ever before, Britain is too.

And what are we offering that the Big Six don’t?

Well, in a way we are the anti Big Six – the polar opposite or perhaps photographic negative. Firstly we have an ethical pricing policy – wherein we have only two simple tariffs, everyone gets our latest best price, automatically – and we match the standard price of each Big Six on their home turf. Secondly we have the greenest possible outcome from our customers’ energy bills, ten times more of the billed £ gets spent building new sources of Green Energy. And thirdly and no means least – we have real customer service, we care passionately about this, answer the phone ourselves, keep our promises – all basic stuff, but so long missing from the Big Six.

We are what they are not – perhaps, even, we are, or will prove to be, their nemesis.

Dump The Big Six is about People:Power.

People:Power is at the heart of ecotricity, it’s how we work – empowering people to bring about change with their energy bills.

And the campaign itself is taking place in the (relatively) new world of social media, a place that enables and empowers people to come together, voice opinions and bring about change (38 Degrees is a great example of that) – in a way that has never been possible before. It’s digitally enabled democracy.

People:Power can bring change to the energy sector – when people join us they vote with their energy bills – and the more that do so the better. Together we can harness the energy bills of Britain and direct them to a proper outcome – the creation of a Green, energy independent Britain – a Green Britain.

I hope you like the animation, it’s still making me smile and I’ve seen it a lot. We’ve got a fun Facebook App to go with it, where you can dump your Big Six, to a power ballad accompaniment.

Please feel free to share with everyone you know…. :)

Cheers.

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Find out more:
http://www.facebook.com/ecotricity
http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/dump-big-six

63 responses to “Dump the Big Six
Go on you know you want to…”

    • Chris

      Dale, will you be competing for the contract which results from the 38 Degrees ‘Big Switch’ movement? …Please do!! I can’t think of a more appropriate outcome for that campaign.

      (Please make sure you remain transparent and ethical when you become one of the big six!!! ;)

        • Dale Vince

          Hi Chris, we’d like to compete, but actually we’re disappointed that Which and 38 degrees have focussed only on price. And on switching supplier as a solution. That’s very short term when the underlying cause of the problem is our lack of energy made in Britain and the steadily escalating costs of fossil fuels in the global market place.

          The proper long term answer is to invest in home made sources of renewable energy. Bills into MIlls…:)

          We’ve flagged this up to Which – and perhaps they’ll take this into account when they set the rules for bidding.

          Cheers.

            • Chris

              Dale, you currently offer a price matching service though right? So what happens when customers come along and say I want you to price match the ’38 degrees deal’? ..You will be forced to offer the best price anyway, but without taking any of the publicity that the outright winner of the campaign already holds. <:-/ I would not like to see Ecotricity miss such a golden opportunity for expansion.

                • Dale Vince

                  HI Chris, Understand where you’re coming from.

                  We actually price match the Standard tariff of each of the Big Six, in their home patch. It’s the price that most people pay for their energy, so it has most relevance, in what can otherwise be a very confusing market. It means we cost no more, for most people.

                  So we’d not be obliged to match the best price coming from the 38 degrees ‘reverse auction’ (as Which call it).

                  In fact, having given it more thought, since the question first came up – we could not take part in this process as it would breach our Ethical pricing policy – whereby we give the same price to all our customers – Old and New.

                  In fact – Which are encouraging exactly the kind of behaviour that the Big Six get slammed for – preferential pricing; offering lower prices to attract new customers and keeping loyal customers on higher rates. Seems a bit wrong. But when you focus solely on price, as Which have and the Big Six do – that’s what you get.

                  Cheers.

        • Nicky

          Loved the cooling towers video.
          I’d like to hear your take on Smart Meters: consumer empowerment tools, or Big Brother stealth technology?
          If 20% of people are looking at price comparison sites, what would be the impact if they could access wholesale energy prices live – in real time – from the comfort of their own homes?

            • Dale Vince

              Hi Nicky, Glad you liked it, still making me smile….:)

              Smart meters? we are for them. We’ve installed them for nearly all of our business customers already and as soon as the standard for domestic is actually agreed, we’ll begin the homes roll out. I think it’s def a good thing.

              One of the big bug bears of the energy industry is the archaic need to go out and read meters – it’s the cause of perhaps 90% of all problems – so much scope for things to go wrong and be misunderstood. And then there’s estimated bills….

              That said, there’s a perverse situation currently wherein smart meters are having to be read manually. The problem is the regulations don’t oblige the meter owners and operators (third parties) to perform to any standard – when a customer with a smart meter switches supplier. These guys actually refuse to send over meter data to the new supplier, for many months – requiring physical reads of meters – which is just bonkers.

              We’ve flagged this up to the Minister responsible and are hopeful that standards of behaviour will be imposed.

              WRT your last point – I think if people could access wholesale prices live – they would just be more confused. It’s a complex market, with numerous drivers – we have a team of people, analysing all sorts of data – just to judge if the market price is high or low at any given time, and looking fwds. It’s def not something, IMO, the public will ever be able or interested to take part in.

              I think people need energy companies they can trust, to treat them fairly.

              Cheers.

                • Nicky

                  I have seen presented a simple “traffic light” system that could tell the consumer when renewables are plentiful and on stream. That was more to do with flagging availability than price- so not really smart metering (though you need two-way communications to make it happen, so I guess that’s the connection).
                  The results of the (small) study were positive, in that the people said they would be motivated to adjust their energy use according to the availability of renewables, and not just because of variable tariffs.

    • Jeffrey Lam

      It’s great to hear you’re ready to become big. Best of luck with the campaign!

        • Dale Vince

          Thanks Jefrey.

            • Anon

              Jefrey with one F, great Pixies tune :)

    • Greggmcc

      What will happen if everybody jumps from the big six to you! Will this make you the same, just a marketing ploy me thinks. Also all the big six are demolishing/upgrading their old plants and investing heavily in greener energy. But it can’t happen overnight

        • Dale Vince

          Well, if everyone dumped the Big Six and joined us – by definition we’d become the Big One…..:) But that’s not going to happen. For one thing, not everyone will even see the campaign, let alone act on it. It’s not a question that needs to be worried about.

          This is no ‘ploy’ though – it is marketing of course, we want people to know we are here and an alternative exists.

          The Big Six are not ‘demolishing and upgrading their old plants’ as you say – and they def are not ‘investing heavily in green generation’.

          Typically they spend about a fiver per household per year doing that. And that’s a big problem, and one of the big reasons to Dump them – they talk green stuff, but don’t do it.

          Rating table here, on energy companies green spend, if you’re interested.

          http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/for-your-home/uk-s-greenest/how-green-is-your-energy-company

          Cheers.

    • alex scargall

      i think that the energy market has turned into a blame game. The smaller providers blame the big 6, the big 6 blame the government and governmentrt blames the market? at what point do people step up and offer solutions. billions of pounds needs to be invested to secure future energy supplies and distriution methods but again no one wants to pay out on doing this. green energy has its part to play but 24/7 generation is a long way off. if you want to increase ecotricity’s customer base to 100,000 you will have to focus on solutions for fuel poverty and low income families. over 4million uk customers qualify for this category. so big customer gains to be had if you introduce a budget package. its customer numbers not quality that matters which makes me sad to say. if you provided a quality service at a price people can afford your customer base would more than doubble in a few months.

        • Dale Vince

          Hi Alex, to a degree you’re right with your first point.

          We do blame the Big Six – for not investing properly in new sources of green energy. We also blame the government for not regulating the industry properly – it’s an oligopoly and needs regulation in the interests of the whole Country. It could be much better and the water industry is a good example of how monopoly (in that case) utilities can be regulated to operate in the public interest – and still be attractive to investors.

          And of course the government blames the Big Six as you say – but that’s politics. The energy market is actually the Tories Frankenstien’s monster – created by privatisation.

          But your second point is not right. We have stepped up to offer a solution – and though we may be small, our model is proven and scaleable – the Big Six could adopt it and actually make it work better than we can. We outspend them by a factor of ten, per customer, per year – on new build green. And we do it by not having dividends – we use our customers bill money to build windmills – Bills into Mills we like to call it.

          There is another way.

          WRT fuel poverty – discounts and grants for the fuel poor are short term fixes. With growing energy costs, the costs of these measures just keeps growing. it’s unsustainable to tackle it this way. What we need is to invest massively in new sources of renewable energy, made in Britain – and give energy to the fuel poor. This would be sustainable – and achievable at the same cost in fact.

          One example of how that could is here –

          http://zerocarbonista.com/petition-dam-fuel-poverty/

          The idea would work just as well with onshore wind.

          Cheers.

            • Alex Scargall

              Thanks for the reply,

              I’m still unsure as to the future of fuel poverty as prices continue to rise and the economy remains unstable for most people, each month the numbers of people in the UK affected by fuel poverty continues to rise and giving hand outs as you stated is not the solution. As the FIT tariff has been kept in the UK (much to my surprise) it would offer the perfect solution to the problem. By turning the most vulnerable into a network of small scale generators it would directly solve the problems they are facing. For example if someone fitted solar panels to a pensioners property then they would see an immediate and direct saving in the electricity bill and the service provider would have a long term and profitable investment, it would benefit both the service provider and end user. Also by increasing the number of generators wholesale deals will be available for the equipment needed therefore lowering prices making it more profitable and affordable for the parties involved. You would also directly benefit from the ROC’s which contain a financial benefit and the carbon savings would also be gained.

              Also with projects like Andrea Rossi Ecat and the new south African company offering solid state generators what is your plans of incorporating new technologies into your energy mix to ensure you can adapt to future market changes and customer demands? (not related to the above but I was just wondering about your future plans)

                • Dale Vince

                  Hear what you say. The FIT tariff def could play a role in the way you describe, though I don’t think it’s the ‘perfect solution’.

                  I see two problems. The first is that the FIT itself is funded by energy bills – so it’s a subsidy from all users to a few – that’s OK if it all goes to the fuel poor as you describe – but in practice a lot of it (most of it) goes to the fuel rich – increasing the bills of the fuel poor. Kind of reverse subsidy.

                  Second, small scale installations are far less cost effective than large scale ones – so small scale FITs are an uneconomic way to deliver green energy (for whatever purpose) compared to large scale projects. Take PV as an example – maybe the difference is two fold – between rooftop and open field. Compare rooftop PV to large scale onshore wind though and the difference is perhaps 6 fold.

                  New technology wise, we’re keen adopters. Have just began a wave power project – R&D of a device known as Searaser. And have energy storage devices in both R&D (small scale) and commercial planning (large scale).

                  No idea what solid state generators are though…:)

                  Cheers.

                    • Alex Scargall

                      I hear what your saying about the problems and agree; it would appear that no matter how hard people try the problem is here to stay.

                      In terms of solid state generators I cant believe for one minute that your own a power company and have never heard of Nicola Tesla and his weird inventions that actually work?? Try a trip to maplin/B&Q with as little as £100 you can build a variety of electricity generators, Maplin even sell a book called “100 solar experiments for the evil scientist” which produces some wonderful and fun diy experiments you can build at your desk in work when you get a bit of quiet time.

                      Try this website and read the stories about the Africa Trip for the solid state generator and also regular updates on the Ecat. Its a very useful website for people interested in alternative technology, you will have to dig out the stories that interest you but with a little digging its possible to get names and business names, with a quick internet search produce contact details to take investigations further. I myself work on overunity generators and alternative technology projects (and do also work for one of the big 6).

                      Hope you find it useful, and check out some other internet sites too because your wave generator is very similar to another project currently being tested??

                      http://peswiki.com/index.php/Main_Page

                      Solar panels made from grass is an interesting read, A lot of updates from MIT are released here months before anyone one else gets to find out about them. So stay ahead of your competitors and make the difference you need to make.

                    • Nick

                      Dale,

                      You’re spot on when you say

                      “…the FIT itself is funded by energy bills – so it’s a subsidy from all users to a few – that’s OK if it all goes to the fuel poor as you describe – but in practice a lot of it (most of it) goes to the fuel rich – increasing the bills of the fuel poor. Kind of reverse subsidy.”

                      Glad that you acknowledge that the FIT (and indeed all subsidy on power generation including the Renewable Obligation payments that enable you to own a large company) are just a way of moving money from the fuel poor to the fuel rich – not sure how ethical that is especially as we have finally seen some awakening of people to the problems of capitalism (Occupy etc.).

                      Maybe it’s about time Ecotricity started to look at a community ownership model instead of classic capitaliism of concentrating wealth in the hands of a few?

                      Subsidy can a force for good, but as you correctly point out, FIT is just a reverse subsidy and the same can be said for all the other schemes (such as Renewable Obligations) that will add huge sums to average bills whilst allowing weathy people to get their hands on taxpayers’ money.

                      Any scheme that requires taxpayers’ fmoney should be owned by the taxpayer in the proportion that it is funded – that way the profits will flow back to the people rather than the owners simply building huge companies worth tens of millions of pounds with no comeback. To me that sounds very similar to MPs keeping the profits when they sold the second homes that we had paid for.

                      It would be interesting to know just how much subsidy Ecotricity has received over the years – any ideas Dale?

                    • Dale Vince

                      Hi Nick, Conflating my views on FITs with all forms of support is a mistake – at the heart of your first comment here.

                      The RO is quite different. Yes it is a cost on all of our energy bills, but the benefits of it accrue far more evenly across the population – we get new green energy generation from it, as a country – and built at scale and therefore more economically.

                      The RO has enabled the building of large scale green sources – to a degree. I wish it was an actual Obligation (with teeth) rather than a ‘Polite Request’ – with no penalties for energy companies that fail to comply – as the Big Six and most small guys do – year in and out.

                      Our focus here at ecotricity is on the building of new capacity – we’re building as much as fast as we can. We think that our model, which is social capitalism, works better than any other.

                      Perhaps evidenced by the fact that we spend ten times more each year, per customer, building new green sources, than any other energy company (most years we spend more than all of them put together) – because we are a not for dividend company.

                      Community ownership is another model. If you believe in it -do something about it – let’s see what you’re made of.

                      That would be a better use for your time than taking cheap shots at me because ecotricity is successful.

                      WRT green support, like the RO, ‘adding huge sums to bills ‘ as you claim – in the last 12 months average energy bills have risen £205. of that £175 is directly due to increased costs of gas. £30 of that is directly attributable to green energy support. And £8 of that was for onshore wind.

                      The “huge sums” being added to bills are because we are not building enough new green sources – not because we’re building too much.

                      Cheers.

                    • Nick

                      Dale,

                      I’m not seeing your logic of saying that FiT is a reverse susidy and therefore bad, whilst RO which is the same in principle – i.e. paying producers a premium, but on a much larger scale- is good. The fact that RO goes to wealthy power companies and FiT goes to small scale producers or individuals is another key difference, but based onm your public pronouncmnets, I’d be surprised if self interest was part of your objection.

                      However, it would be useful to know how much in RO funding has made it’s way to Ecotricity over the last 10 years – unless that information is secret for some reason.

                      I’m also intrigued by your description of Ecotricity, a private company valued at over £50m being owned by one person as “social capitalism” – that sounds like old fashioned capitalism to me.

                    • Nick

                      Dale,

                      Is it a secret how much in RO ecotricity has recieved or is the information available somewhere?

                      Just trying to get a clear picture of how much subsidy is available for wind power – I quite like the idea of getting some of that cash back into the community.

                    • Nick

                      Dale,

                      As the sole shareholder in Ecotricity Group Ltd with £10m cash in the bank and net worth of £48m disclosed in your companyaccounts for 2011, it would ube useful to know how much of that is profit from the RO subsidy. As its a subsidy it should be available to anyone who sets up a wind farm and it would great to get that kind of cash into the community via a social enterprise instead of sitting in the hands of an individual.

                      Or is the amount of subsidy ecotricity enjoys a secret?

                    • Nick

                      Hi dale,
                      As you’ve been a bit quiet of late I’ve done some digging and using your own figures of 56.9 MW of electricity capacity from your operating wind installations and the 27% capacity factor you quote, the company that you personally own outright will generate roughly 139 GWh per year for total revenue of £19.5m using the cheapest rate of 14p per KWh (you’ll make at least a couple of million more, but that’s the worst case). However, that’s not the full story as the average payment per year per MW of capacity is around £400k for the electricity and £400k in subsidy. So that’s a total of £22.8m in subsidy. No wonder you’ve got £10m cash in the bank and you’ve managed to buy a football club as well as a sports car hobby when there’s this amount of cash floating around – good effort Dale and well done for grabbing as much as you have. Not many industrial developers can access subsidies like that so who can blame you for going for it.
                      Once your plans for an installed capacity of 261.5 MW are completed (your figures of 175.9 being planned, 28.7MW being built and 56.9MW operating) your subsidy from the energy poor to the energy rich will rocket to £104.6m per year – I can see why you didn’t like the FiT scheme but you’re a very big defender of the RO – who wouldn’t want to jeopardise their personal revenue stream of one billion pounds over ten years.
                      However bad it looks right now with one person being the beneficiary of such vast amounts, what those sums do is to make a social enterprise the best way to share this money through the community. Now I’ve seen the scale of the funds available I’ll be looking into how to get enough people organised to challenge the vested interests with some people power – Occupy might be out of home, but the spirit lives on.
                      Thanks for the inspiration to challenge the old values of capitalism and wrest control of these massive sums from individuals and into the hands of the community!

    • alex scargall

      wow..cheap shot there from nick right under the comments about blame…without funding from the taxpayer there would be no power, roads, schools and hospitals etc. there is no issue with funding its how it gets spent and who gets the end benefit that matters.its funding that provides innovation that brings new ideas and products that companies then use. without the mix of big and small business in the power industry there would be no energy mix or opinions about change; we need to realise there is no provider against green energy and any company will say 100% green energy would be great but we are a long way from making it a reality due to finance and technology limits. funding this industry makes us closer to this goal one day at a time and keeps people in jobs and therefore the economy grows. its ok to question but having a go at pepole who try regarless of the company logo is just wrong.

    • Nick Roberts

      Hi, I am a design student and have be set a project to re-design your offices, ‘Hypothetically Speaking’ of course.
      Don’t worry i am not about to bulldose your office and start again.

      It has been an absolute joy to be introduced to your wonderful company and i am certainly going to switch to you.

      I just wanted to ask weather you could recommend, a list of the most environmentally friendly building materials, or what you use, or a website where this will be listed. Also i wondered how many people work for you….
      I realise this is loads to ask. so Sorry ..

      Many Thanks

      Nick Roberts
      nkeroberts@gmail.com

    • Nick Roberts

      Hi, I am a design student and have be set a project to re-design your offices, ‘Hypothetically Speaking’ of course.
      Don’t worry i am not about to bulldose your office and start again.

      It has been an absolute joy to be introduced to your wonderful company and i am certainly going to switch to you.

      I just wanted to ask weather you could recommend, a list of the most environmentally friendly building materials, or what you use, or a website where this will be listed. Also i wondered how many people work for you….
      I realise this is loads to ask. so Sorry ..

      Many Thanks

      Nick Roberts

        • Dale Vince

          Hi NIck, sorry for the slow reply.

          I’m not aware of any web site with a list of eco friendly products.

          When we’re retrofitting a building the kind of things we go for are – LED lights, with motion sensors instead of switches – Chemical free paints, clay based are very good – recycled carpet tiles (Interface seem to lead the field) – insulation where ever we can add it – and swapping gas boiler heating systems for electrically fired heat pump jobs (air con that can heat and cool).

          That’s it in a nutshell. hope it helps.

          Oh and team wise we’re about 250 strong now.

          Cheers.

    • Waterfreight Canal Transport

      Dale, I have launched a sustainable solar transport solution for the 21st century. It’s still in its infancy but I was inspired by your struggle because you have a belief and understanding lacked by many.
      I hope you will be able to support my project as I role it out later this year, as I believe it’s inline with your vision.

        • Dale Vince

          Sounds cool, keep us posted and we’ll help where we can.

          Cheers.

    • alex scargall

      is it me or is this nick a total prick. anyone can apply for grants and develop renewable energy for profit.

        • Dale Vince

          Not just you.

          I just read his last three posts… blimey what is he on.

          Nick, if you read this – I will reply to your questions, guesses, assertions. allegations and general ranting – just please be patient. I’m busy milking the system man…:)

          Cheers.

            • alex scargall

              you milk that system and buy a massive boat and award yourself a £1m bonus…youve earned it.

                • Paul Verbinnen

                  Def not just you Alex! I wondered which of the big 6 he might work for.

                  It’s always a giveaway when someone uses a single name. Troll is the usual expression I believe.

    • Dale Vince

      OK Nick taking your points in order – though they are mostly of course out of order….

      You said – “I’m not seeing your logic of saying that FiT is a reverse susidy and therefore bad, whilst RO which is the same in principle – i.e. paying producers a premium, but on a much larger scale- is good. ”

      I’m not sure you were paying attention to my reply – One of the big differences is that of economics – of scale. We (all of us) get far more for our £1 of subsidy, from the RO than from the FIT – in terms of RE generated and CO2 saved. It’s a big difference too. My view is that the money is better spent on big scale renewables.

      Figures for the output of all Ecotricity generators are in the public domain, we publish them and I believe OFGEM does too. No secrets.

      You also said – I’m also intrigued by your description of Ecotricity, a private company valued at over £50m being owned by one person as “social capitalism” – that sounds like old fashioned capitalism to me.”

      The difference between what you might call ‘Social’ and ‘Traditional’ Capitalism – or companies – is not about ownership – it’s one of purpose and outcome. It’s why they exist in the world and what they do with the money they make – that’s the difference. The politics of envy are clouding your judgement.

      That’s episode one. Yours of the 22nd Feb.

      Cheers.

        • alex scargall

          talkin about getting free money for wind turbines. the siemens port got planning aproval the other day so Hull will soon be home to wind turbine factory. hurray new jobs for everyone.

    • Dale Vince

      Episode two – yours of the 1st March.

      You said – “Is it a secret how much in RO ecotricity has recieved or is the information available somewhere?
      Just trying to get a clear picture of how much subsidy is available for wind power – I quite like the idea of getting some of that cash back into the community.”

      You’re being silly of course.

      The basic information is in the public domain – how much green electricity does ecotricity produce each year – and what is paid per ROC (the subsidy).

      And the clearer picture you’re looking for – the value of RO subsidies – is in the public domain. Wind currently has 1 ROC per MWh and a good stab at the value of that ROC is £45. That will reduce to 0.9 ROC per MWh shortly it seems – but you can do the maths.

      So what are you waiting for – go set up a community scheme or company – and start raking in that RO money – well once you’ve found a site, measured the wind, negotiated the planning system – so start now and perhaps in 5 years time……..

      It really is that easy… :)

      Cheers.

      Cheers.

    • Dale Vince

      Episode three – March 3rd.

      You wrote “As the sole shareholder in Ecotricity Group Ltd with £10m cash in the bank and net worth of £48m disclosed in your companyaccounts for 2011, it would ube useful to know how much of that is profit from the RO subsidy.”

      Useful to a man driven by envy perhaps….but to who else

      I’ve never tried to make this calculation – it’s not as simple as you prob think

      The total sum received by any company for ROCs is not profit – the key is in the word itself ‘subsidy’. It is money used to support the cost of equipment – windmills.

      Each time a wind project gets built, it carries bank debt – usually 80% of the capex is debt. That debt capital plus interest is repaid each year, for perhaps 15 years.

      The RO payments form part of the income of RE generators (not just wind of course) – they are not profit.

      Sorry can’t help you further with this one.

      And then you wrote – “As its a subsidy it should be available to anyone who sets up a wind farm and it would great to get that kind of cash into the community via a social enterprise instead of sitting in the hands of an individual.”

      Er, it is available to anyone Nick, get of yer butt and go develop some wind farms and put that money where you think it will do most good or most deserves to be. Choose your own model.

      Talk is easy, and often cheap. Stop whining and get to work… :)

      Cheers.

    • Dale Vince

      Episode four, so much effort…… yours of the 4th March

      Some very poor analysis here.

      Huge error right at the start – the unit rate of 14p is a very long way from reality. I think you may have mixed up domestic retail rates with wholesale ones.

      A better guess at the value of each wind unit is 9p – making your starting point, guesstimate, of income – merely 50% or so inflated.

      No big deal for a man like you I’m sure, shrug it off…..you were close..:)

      From there it just gets worse – Quote – “(you’ll make at least a couple of million more, but that’s the worst case). However, that’s not the full story as the average payment per year per MW of capacity is around £400k for the electricity and £400k in subsidy. So that’s a total of £22.8m in subsidy. ”

      I can’t make sense of that.

      And then you just descend into a tirade of spite filled, green eyed BS.

      Truly, IMHO, you are an idiot Nick. Sorry has to be said.

      Cheers.

        • Nick

          Hi Dale,

          Thanks for the reply, but a bit short on the simple information that I’m sure your team of accountants must have. The question I asked was ‘how much subsidy does Ecotricity get?’

          You do give the information that an ROC is worth £45 per MWh, and based on your own figures of 139 GWh per year (based on 56.9MW), that’s a total of £6.25m per year, and once capacity reaches your planned total of 261.5MW, those ROCs at the lower O.9 rate will generate a subsidy of £25m per year – giving a ten year figure of only a quarter of billion pounds. Apologies for saying you’ll get a billion pounds in subsidy when it’s actually £250m moved from the energy poor to the energy rich.

          Thanks for the figures – I know you’re a busy guy who is a director of almost 90 companies, so thanks for confirming (after a bit more work) the scale of these payments, although I’m sure you have those figures at your fingertips.

          You talk about social enterprise and helping the community, yet you paid yourself £148k per year and loaned yourself £400k at 0% (good deal there – I don’t know of anyone else who could get such a good rate) in 2011. You have no governance in place as there are only two directors of Ecotricity Group – no independent non-execs who would oversee where the money goes, and you own that business as a private company. Who knows what you get from your other 87 companies, that would need some more time to unravel.

          You might have started as a one of the good guys, but power and money always affect people, and now you’re simply yet another an industrial developer who‘s focussed on the money.

          Truly, IMHO, you are a capitalist Dale. Sorry it has to be said.

            • tickingclock

              Lol Nick – you just put a clown costume on…let me grab you a unicycle.

            • Jeffrey Lam

              lol Nick, you’ll have to share your definition of capitalism with us…
              Would Dale stop being a capitalist if ecotricity had other owners? Or non-execs? Are the big six not capitalists?

                • Nick

                  Even the narrowist of definitions of capitalist would include someone with net wealth of over £40m (half which has come from the enrgy poor subsidising the enegry rich) or someone with an income of £148k per year (carefully pitched just below the 50% income tax band and even more carefully topped up with a £400k interest free loan).

                  I don’t mind that Dale is a very wealthy industrial developer, but I do mind that he presents himself as some kind of new age activist who has invented a socially responsible “not for dividend” model. There don’t appear to be any dividends (just interest free loans) but he is very clearly building his own personal capital as he owns 100% of Ecotricity (not sure about the other 80+ compnaies) and the only other director is a family member.

                  Couple the family ownership structure with a subsidised enterprise and that is the classic capitalist model that has built the great social divides we see today.

                  Dale would be less of a traditional capitalist if Ecotricity was a co-operative, or if it had some kind of comunity shared ownership scheme, or if the board of Ecotricity had representatives of the communities that have his industrial developments thrust upon them to name but three.

                  But whilst he continues to build a family owned and controlled empire of 80+ companies based on subsidy – then capitalist he surely is.

            • Paul D

              Is a ROC a subsidy??

              Generally it means a transfer of funds from a high carbon electricity company to a low carbon electricity company and even that only works if companies fail to meet carbon reduction obligations. If all companies met their CDO2 reduction obligations, Ecotricity wouldn’t get much money if any at all.

              There are incorrect economic assumptions being thrown around here. High carbon energy may appear cheap, but it has been subsidising our lives at the cost of future generations.

              And what is wrong with capitalism?
              The whole point of green policies is to reduce carbon emissions. There is no ‘social’ factor in that goal (Although the left have hijacked the green issues as they do with everthing). It is up to politicians to decide what flavour of politics they think they want to use and which is OK with their conscience. But cutting CO2 is the driving factor.

                • Nick

                  ROC is very similar in intent to the Feed in Tarrif – and Dale himself said that FiT was subsidy from the energy poor to the energy rich becasue wealthy people and companies were building schemes that took this money.

                  As a principle, that seems accurate, and Dale aslo referred to FiT as a “reverse subsidy” because it was from the poor to the rich. However, due to the scale of ROCs (and in no way linked to the large income that Dale receives from ROCs), they are apparently not a payment from the energy poor to the energy rich. Not sure of the logic there as the money is from the same source – bill payers – and goes to same target – energy producers.

                  I guess that the reduction in FiTs for large schemes might explain Dale’s annoyance and dislike of them as his schemes won’t attract as much money as he previously expected.

                    • Dale Vince

                      Nick, you misquote me (at the start of this piece), or misunderstand me, or are simply blinded by the conclusions you wish to jump to.

                      And then you say – comparing FIT to ROC
                      “Not sure of the logic there as the money is from the same source – bill payers – and goes to same target – energy producers.”

                      The first part is right – the money from FITs and RO does come from bill payers in each case.

                      But the second part is wrong, the money from the RO goes to ‘energy producers’ on the whole – but the money from FITs does not. FITs are a wholly different scale of project – people, bill payers themselves are predominantly involved in FITs – not large power companies.

                      You need to pay more attention to the details – or you need to care more for the accuracy of what you write – or (pref) both.

                      Cheers.

                    • alex scargall

                      why are you so interested in ecotricity nick they do get fiinancial help the same as any other provider. if you want to try and expose people try running your maths skills basic as they are over npower. we have nuke plants, wind and hydro plants which all output more a week in governnment handouts than ecotricity get a year. our full financial report has just come out and will give you all the info you need.

                    • Paul D

                      Re: Nick.

                      I think Nick typifies the political garbage from the past that infiltrates green issues. Neither the left or right are capable of really grasping the issues and both hang onto ideology that is passed it’s sell by date. Sometimes it is frankly impossible to differentiate the two when it comes to their alleged solutions to anthropogenic global warming.

                      Old Nick is so worried about the ‘poor’ in this nation that he is willing to sacrifice future generations just for a quick economic socialist fix today.

                      It’s no coincidence that the leader of the local ‘occupy’ campaign near me is an anthropogenic global warming skeptic. How long before the loony left starts claiming it is a conspiracy as are the loony right??

            • Dale Vince

              Nick, you glibly now claim that ecotricity receives £6m a year from the RO – overlooking your earlier exaggerated claim of nearly £20m and more – how can your word be trusted on anything – you don’t seem to care in the slightest that the things you’ve been saying here are rubbish.

              You then take our planning pipeline number – not projects up and running but those in the system – and convert that into a ten year income figure of a quarter of a billion pounds – reduced from one Billion already it should be said – but it’s a huge assumption to make that all of our projects will get consent and be built – HUGE. And of course you’re overlooking the time factor – five years in planning is not unusual.

              You are basically twisting, to achieve head turning numbers, tabloid style soundbites.

              The annual accounts you are referring to are for the Ecotricity Group.

              All of the companies you refer to, are part of this group.

              The accounts are consolidated – therefore there is nothing that is not in them. My salary, from any other company, included.

              And I have no idea where you came up with the number of £148k for my salary but it is BS plain and simple.

              The truthfulness and accuracy of what you write is woefully lacking.

              Who are you Nick? and what’s your real agenda?

              Cheers.

              Cheers.

                • Nick

                  Dale,

                  In the accounts of Ecotricity Group Ltd to 30th April 2011 “Director’s emoluments” of £148,875 are listed so I’m using that as the truth – unless figures declared by you to Companies House were wrong. However, as the only other director is a family member it may be that you split the income to reduce your tax bill. This is a common trick used where one person earns the cash but by spreading the income between two the tax bill is less. It’s the same kind of scheme used by lots of wealthy people which has just been exposed.I’m saddened that even Ken Livingston has used this loophole http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2012/03/income-tax-mayor-livingstone

                  Directors’ loans of £496,719 at 0% interest are also mentioned, but as you don’t dispute that, I’ll assume that your filing to Companies House is accurate.

                  If your other 80+ companies are all feeding into one, why do you feel the need to have this web of companies? It reminds me of the complex structure that Enron used to hide figures from the public, and look where that ended up.

                  If the £6m a year ROC figure is wrong (and I agree that it’s hard to pull out the figure from the varied sources of Ofgem and your company accounts) could you just clarify how wrong I am and give us the correct figure for clarity – in order to know that my figures are wrong, you must have the correct figure, so please could you correct me?

                  The £250m per year figure is drawn from your own figures. I notice you don’t actually say it’s wrong, just that it is based on all your industrial developments being allowed. So if only half end up being built, you’d only be getting £125m per year, but if they all get built, then the £250m a year stands – unless you can give a correct figure..

                  And the difference between the FiT and ROC is that ROC goes to large industrial companies, FiT goes to small producers – the principle of energy poor paying energy rich still holds, it’s just that you now cannot access that cash unless you invested in many “people scale” schemes rather than desecrating the countryside with huge developments.

                  Sorry if you don’t like these figures being put into the public domain, but I thought that transparency was something you believed in.

                  As for who I am, I’m just a normal person who thinks we have fallen for the big company claptrap for too long, and thought that you offered an alternative. But you seem to be just the same, except that you’re building a company owned by one person based on subsidy – and that massive transfer of wealth from the many to the few is what is so wrong with our society.

                  In the year to 30th April 2011 the company that you personally own declared a net worth of £48m with £8m cash in the bank – and I just think that people should know how much of that wealth has been transferred to you as a subsidy.

                  I can’t think of a single reason why such an open and transparent guy as you are would not want that to be publicly available.

                    • alex scargall

                      wow….you have a lot of free time and issues nick. does it really matter how much someone who works hard for something they care about and owns a company pays themself. ecotricity does stand out in our industry as being different and i realy hope that he does hit that 100,000 customer mark and joins the current big 6. get a grip and move on. had enough of your rambling no

                    • Dale Vince

                      Nick, you are amazing. You roll glibly from one major exaggeration or guess to another, covering your blushes with new and ever more rabid claims.

                      Having falsely claimed I’m paid £148k a year – you now accuse me of tax evasion. Marvellous.

                      You suggested this was my minimum pay as I was director of another 80 companies (suggesting they paid me as well) – when it was pointed out to you that you were reading consolidated accounts (with nothing missing) – you come back with ‘it’s a complex structure and reminds you of Enron.’

                      It’s not remotely complicated or like Enron. All of the companies you refer to are in one UK based Group – all under one umbrella. Most, probably 80% of them are dormant companies. Of the trading ones most (prob 75%) are wind projects, because banks insist on separate trading entities as a condition of lending. Theres nothing untoward or complex about it.

                      I didn’t say the £6 million figure was wrong – I contrasted it to your first guess of £22 million ‘at least’ – my point is that you play fast and loose with the truth.

                      The £250 million figure is a fabrication of yours – it started out as a ten year figure (and a Billion) and now you say it’s annual – you can’t even keep your story straight. My point on this was you’ve assumed everything in planning gets built (which is silly) and that it runs for ten years under the RO -while It takes five years typically to go from planning to operation anyway – and the RO doesn’t even have five years life left. Did you even know that Nick….?

                      Then you say – “Sorry if you don’t like these figures being put into the public domain, but I thought that transparency was something you believed in.”

                      What you need to apologise for ‘Nick’ is for putting utterly false information into the public domain. That is my complaint to you, though you may seek to twist it otherwise.

                      Your lack of care for the truthfulness of what you have been saying here – is shocking.

                      You’ve made repeated claims and accusations here – all with scant regard for fact, with little or no diligence – and no acknowledgement when corrected on the facts. Repeated reckless and wildly inaccurate claims – that makes you a Liar IMO.

                      And as for transparency. I am all for it. I’ve taken the time to respond to you, at length, I’ve engaged in the debate on the numbers and the principles.

                      But you – you remain anonymous. I’ve asked you who you are, you won’t say. You need to hide.

                      Perhaps that shows you to be a Coward as well as a Liar.

                      And since transparency and putting things into the public domain is the soapbox you pretend to be standing on…. I ask again – Who are you?

                      Or shall we add Hypocrite to the list of character traits…. :)

                      Cheers.

                    • alex scargall

                      given the conversations between nick and dale at this point it would be best to not respond and have the admin remove any future posts. add nicks email to the block list on the website settings and stop this from going further. he is out to cause problems and the more you respond the more he wins.

                        • paul

                          Hi Alex,

                          This thread is going on a bit – I’ve had to tweak the blog settings in order to make this reply in-line!

                          We don’t take blocking people or deleting comments lightly, and so far Dale has not asked me to do neither.

                          You never know though – perhaps the mysterious Nick might actually use the next comment to engage in the openness & transparency he so passionately believes in..?

                          We’ll see…

                          Cheers
                          Paul

    • Steve Jones

      I thought the video was great until the last few seconds. It does seem to suggest that we could replace a conventional power station with 3 windmills.

      A Gigawatt station would need to be replaced with over a thousand wind turbines covering several hundred square km of land – about the size of a smallish county.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think we should be doing just that. But the last shot does sort of gives the impression it’s a one-for-one switch between towers and turbines. It definitely isn’t.

        • Dale Vince

          Hi Steve, we’re def not trying to suggest that 3 windmills can replace a conventional power station – any more than we’re trying to suggest cooling towers drink tea…. :)

          You’re right, it would take a lot of windmills to replace a 1GW power station – but not as many as you think.

          Assuming a 1GW coal plant, with a capacity factor of 45% (average in the UK of the last five years) – it would take about 500 windmills occupying about one hundred square km. That assumes the use of 3MW windmills and a typical load factor of 30%. So that each scenario would produce the same amount of power annually.

          Cheers.

            • Steve Jones

              Thanks for that.

              It is slightly esoteric, I admit, but I would be interested to know… using your numbers, it means you think it possible that onshore wind with a capacity factor of 30% to produce 4.5W/m2 of electricity.

              In “sustainable energy without the hot air” (which you link to on the right hand side of your blog http://www.withouthotair.com/)
              David Mackay thinks that 2W/m2 is the upper limit, and makes the point that, in terms of energy density, it makes no difference if you are using 1,2 or 3 MW windmills, the energy density is 2W/m2 because larger windmills are spaced further apart.

              I would be interested to understand if you do disagree with his numbers and, if you do, where you disagree.

              His 2 brief chapters on wind energy are here and here.

              Regards Steve

                • Dale Vince

                  Hi Steve,

                  I believe David Mackay made a mistake in this regard, the energy density of a wind project can and does increase as windmills get bigger. Here’s why –

                  The energy that a windmill captures is proportional to the swept area of the blades (the circle), and as the radius of the blades increase the area swept by the blades increases following a square law. Energy capture therefore follows a square law as windmills get bigger.

                  But the spacing between windmills follows a linear law – typically spacing is 3 to 5 times rotor diameter.

                  It follows that as windmills get bigger, we can extract more energy per m2 of land. Square law trumps linear.

                  I read an interview with DM a month or two back, he said he’s only had to make one ‘minor’ correction in his book – I think this may have been it, though I’ve never looked. We did flag it up to him back in the day.

                  In any event – theory aside – the figures I quoted to you above came from our planning team, I asked them to simply give me an area of land that 1GW of 3MW windmills would occupy – and then I added 50% to compensate for the diff in load factor between coal and wind.

                  It’s a figure based on separation distances of 3MW machines – using the software we design wind projects with. Which I suppose validates the theory above and yes energy density can indeed increase above 2Wm2.

                  Hope this helps.

                  Cheers.

                    • Steve Jones

                      “But the spacing between windmills follows a linear law – typically spacing is 3 to 5 times rotor diameter.”

                      I’m a little puzzled, surely if the SPACING follows a linear law, doesn’t that mean the number of windwills per AREA follows a square law.

                      What I thought you were going to say is that he hasn’t allowed sufficiently for the increased wind speeds at increased height of a 3MW windmill.

                      Anyway, I appreciate hearing what the guys who actually put up the things think.

                      Just for you own jottings, DM does have an up-to-dateerrata page and a bit of a blog where he occasionally posts updates.

                      These –
                      one
                      two
                      three
                      four
                      five
                      all mention wind power per unit area. Although they’re all a few years old now.

                      All the best

                      Steve

    • Jeffrey Lam

      Can I ask something if you don’t mind?
      What are ecotricity up to at the moment? You don’t seem to be building anything right now… what’s going on? All the website’s planning and building blogs have been quiet for at least a year.

      Regards
      Jeff

        • paul

          Hiya Jeff – sorry didn’t see this…

          In answer to your question – we’re in the process of updating our planning/building blogs – some of them have been updated already (Galsworthy, Dalby, Alveston, Silton, Heckington Fen, Harringe Brooks) – basically we’re as busy as ever (if not more so) with building new renewable capacity, but have been a bit slack at updating the planning blogs…

          I imagine you got a copy of our 2011 Progress Report recently too? That should give you a more general ‘what we’re up to’…

          Hope that helps?

          Cheers
          Paul

            • Jeffrey Lam

              Hi Paul
              Yes that’s very helpful. Good to hear that you are busy… very busy!
              Cheers
              Jeff

    • Nicky

      Heard on R4 this morning that the Big Six were being advised by Ofgem to simplify and offer fewer tariffs. But don’t multiple, varied tarifs benefit customers by broadening choice? They are only grudgingly offered here in Germany and are usually based on the convenience of the utility, rather than anyone’s actual lifestyle.

      Price comparison sites were mentioned. But buying energy isn’t the same as buying cheaper insurance, or even telecomms. This is a product whose price and availabilty varies by the hour, not once a year.