Robin Hood Energy is a not for profit energy company which was established in September 2015, and is actively working to provide lower energy tariffs and directly tackle fuel poverty, primarily in the East Midlands. They are wholly owned by Nottingham City Council and the tariffs offered by Robin Hood Energy are available across the UK – the organisation is aiming to provide an alternative to the Big Six energy providers by offering cheaper gas and electricity for all.
Establishing and making a success of a fully licensed energy supplier is a brave and radical step for a local authority. To date, Robin Hood Energy have been extremely successful in getting themselves up and running, introducing a series of different tariffs and products, signing up a large number of customers, and meeting the targets that make them a sustainable organisation thus far. Of course, they face all the usual commercial pressures faced by a business, as well as the added pressure of being a relatively young company. So, there is still a long way to go moving forward.
APSE Energy has teamed up with Robin Hood Energy to help spread their message and support the excellent work that they are doing. The model that Robin Hood Energy has pioneered has grabbed the imagination of many local authorities across the UK, and there is massive interest from other councils who are looking to follow a similar approach. It is not surprising that this is the case but a quick look at the work undertaken by Nottingham City Council and Robin Hood Energy will highlight how difficult it has been for them to get as far as they have. Having shown initial interest in copying the model, other local authorities have yet to make significant progress and some have decided against the idea, presumably because of the level of investment needed and the risk involved. Only Bristol City Council has also established an energy supply company. Significant backing from councillors, capacity to manage risk, and substantial investment funds are need if others are to follow suit. It is clear that all three of these factors in combination are hard to come by.
This is the organisational perspective. Although it is vital to get it right, we know most of the customers are interested in price and quality rather than models, structure and management. So, we had a quick chat with Glyn Symonds, a Robin Hood Energy customer, about his personal experience with Robin Hood Energy and how it compares with his previous energy provider.
How was your experience with your previous energy provider?
Initially fine, but after several tariff changes and increases, it became too expensive to sustain.
How did you hear about Robin Hood?
What made you switch?
The thought of joining a locally based, not for profit business, which would be employing local people. Inevitably, I also hoped that it would prove a cost-effective move.
How do you find Robin Hood to deal with?
Really easy. The staff are obviously locally based, they were friendly, informative, polite and very clear in explaining the details.
Was switching easy?
The switch was effortless. The team took control of the process, guided me through setting up my online account and it has proved straightforward ever since.
Do you know many other people who have switched to Robin Hood?
Yes. Quite a few of my friends also signed up around the same time as I did.
Would you recommend Robin Hood to friends and family?
Yes, I regularly do!
How much have you saved since switching?
It is very difficult to say, but after a recent tariff change due to an increase in your variable tariff, I am paying £90.00 (DD) per month for dual fuel, but with my previous supply I was paying £105.00 per month.
How would you describe Robin Hood overall?
At the moment, everything is satisfactory. Their online account system is very clear and straightforward, the guys on the telephone are perhaps the best I have dealt with and prices are competitive. However, the competitive cost of fuel is important, so I will be monitoring this over the months to come. Nevertheless, their company ethos is attractive, especially as it’s based within the local community.
In the future, I would like to see Robin Hood Energy taking a lead in sustainable energy production throughout its growing network of related companies.
To find out more about Robin Hood Energy, visit their website.
There are many ways in which your council can work with or learn from Robin Hood Energy for the benefit of your local community. If you are interested in doing so, please email Phil Brennan, Head of APSE Energy, or call 0161 772 1810.