Strength in numbers: The Clean Energy Switch allows customers to take control


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Energy bills are not typically met with a cheer. Prices have gone up, often steeply, in the past decade, with the profit margins of the Big Six also inflating year-by-year. For their part, consumers have had little choice but to pay through the nose to keep the heating on, knowing as they do that much of the energy is sourced from fossil fuels, damaging to the planet as well as their bank account.

No more. A campaign to encourage a mass switch-over to clean energy – backed by The Independent from its beginning – has now attracted 100,000 sign-ups, and now the Clean Energy Switch has revealed what it has achieved with that collective bargaining power. The result is extraordinary: power from 100 per cent renewable sources, at a rate £232 cheaper than the average Big Six tariff (that average itself far cheaper than the cost of signing up to one of the Big Six’s own eco-tariffs).

Profound in and of itself, the implications of this move are positively seismic. First, it serves as a reminder that consumers, acting together, can find ways of getting a better deal even when faced with a monopolistic market – as the energy market has become – so long as they are armed with the right information.

Second, it provides a much-needed jolt of good news for the renewables business, and green energy more generally. Subsidies for solar and wind have been hit hard by the Conservative Party. For the green movement to draw in more of the wider population, the emphasis on cataclysm – while entirely necessary – must be matched with promoting the vision of a green economy, with new jobs and new opportunities.

Capitalism and climate change do not make for easy bedfellows, but the former is not in danger of being overthrown soon, so those concerned about the latter must do everything possible to bend markets and people towards more sustainable habits. Let us hope the Clean Energy Switch spurs more bright ideas.