Gas and Energy Supply and Prices Crisis
Brian Cuthbertson, Head of Environment and Sustainability, shares information around the current energy crisis.
Parishes like everyone in recent months and years have seen steep increases in the price of gas and electricity. Fortunately prices are now coming down, following wholesale price falls. However some parishes who fixed their prices at a high rate may continue to have to pay over the odds until they reach the end of their deal.
Comment here is based on the current situation, as it appears in June 2023. Whilst it isn’t possible to foresee all the circumstances that may arise for churches and people, a parish can at any time contact their Area Financial Advisor or the Head of Environment and Sustainability, to discuss the situation and seek more up to date advice.
For more about support on the wider cost of living crisis see The cost of living crisis.
For suggestions on how to save energy, click here to download the document ‘Tips for parishes to save energy and money’.
See also links under ‘More information and advice’ at the foot of this page.
Gas and electricity price relief schemes
Household Energy Price Guarantee
In August 2022, Ofgem announced a steep increase in the domestic ‘Energy Price Cap’. In response, the government decided to override the Energy Price Cap with an ‘Energy Price Guarantee’. From 1 July 2023, this was to have risen to £3,000 per year (the amount paid annually by a typical household).
However, Ofgem has now reduced the Energy Price Cap, to below the government’s ‘guarantee’, which therefore becomes irrelevant. The Cap will set the new limit on how much a household has to pay.
There may also be tariffs that are lower than the Cap. It’s worth shopping around again.
Energy Bills Discount Scheme
Beginning April 2023, the government announced a new arrangement for business, including churches and charities, the ‘Energy Bills Discount Scheme’ (EBDS). This was a very small discount from the market-driven price, subject to a floor which is now likely to be more than the falling market price.
Therefore, most churches should be paying less than the government’s lower limit. The exception will be any who fixed their tariff when prices were very high.
More options are now opening up to switch to a different supplier. If you want to be released from an existing fixed price deal, check you won’t pay a penalty.
Caution is still needed on any new deal. For example, bear in mind any contract terms which lock you in for the duration of the deal – prices may well fall further, leaving you stranded at too high a rate.
We encourage churches to use a ‘green tariff’ for genuinely renewable electricity. Current advice on green tariffs can be found at Green Energy Suppliers. However, these may not all be offering competitive rates – though some do. Check you know what you will be paying.
The ‘Energy Basket’ for CoE churches should still be open for quotes from Parish Buying who run the service. These quotes would be for the period starting 1 October 2023.
Solar panels and smart metering
What happens about your solar panels or smart metering, if you decide to transfer to a new supplier? If you have solar panels, you should be in receipt of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) or the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Will these be transferred, when an existing supplier has ceased trading, or when switching to a new contract? Does the FiT or SEG transfer together with their account?
Feed-in Tariff (FiT)
The answer to the questions above appears to be that this probably won’t be transfered automatically to a new supplier. The new supplier may contact the customer about it, but it would be unwise to wait for that to happen.
Former Bulb customers should verify their position with Octopus, who will by now have taken over their account. Customers of other suppliers should act fast to re-secure their incoming credits if/when their account is transfered, with their new supplier, if they are licensed for the FiT.
The customer would be well advised to make sure they have details of their original registration to hand beforehand, and if not to speak to their present supplier, before they potentially get into trouble. Otherwise the particulars of their FiT registration may become inaccessible.
Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
The FiT was superseded by the SEG a few years ago, for new entrants after that. Much the same points therefore apply. The customer should ask their new supplier whether they are SEG licensed, and if so to set up payments promptly. Otherwise they will need to switch again, to an SEG licensee.
In the above case, the customer should have a smart meter. They (and anyone else with a smart meter) should ascertain whether it is under the ‘SMETS2’ standard, or if not whether it has been upgraded to talk to the national communications network. Their existing supplier should know. If it isn’t SMETS2 or upgraded, then it will go ‘dumb’ when the account is transferred, and the customer will be back to taking manual readings.
Lists of FiT licensed suppliers are at Feed-in Tariff licensees.
Information on the Smart Export Guarantee is at Smart Export Guarantee. Licensees are at SEG Licensees.
More information and advice
See download for ‘Tips for parishes to save energy and money’.
Church of England advice on Energy Efficiency Measures.
Contact your Area Financial Advisor,
Head of Environment and Sustainability
Caring for God’s Creation – Environment and Sustainability.