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/ 12 March 2014

Parish Buying ‘energy basket’ gets revamp to improve customer service

Parish Buying is the Church of England’s service to bulk buy energy and a range of other supplies. Read all about it here.

Parish Buying now offers an ‘energy basket’, purchasing energy wholesale, directly within the market, cutting out the utility company as middleman.

So far, the energy basket has saved an average of 10% on energy costs. Some participating churches have saved more, some less. Not all have made savings. Entering the basket does require advance commitment; it isn’t possible to pull out during the commitment period. Churches need to take a firm decision months in advance. There is a risk to participants; the chances of making savings are reasonable, but not guaranteed.

Many London churches have previously used the services of Charity Funding Solutions, most making large savings this way. Churches who have not received the help of Charity Funding Solutions, and others whose prices have risen faster than average since, may likely benefit from the energy basket.

Of course, background prices are rising all the time. ‘Savings’ just means paying less than you would have done. It may not mean seeing any fall in energy costs in real terms. To do that we need rapidly to reduce the amount we use, as well as the unit price.

Parish Buying work closely with the national Shrinking the Footprint campaign. See also our Shrinking the Footprint page Churches and People. We want to cut consumption and costs at the same time; that has always been and continues to be our key message.

We have asked, can the energy basket system build in green energy? Parish Buying already has an option for renewable electricity from Good Energy, outside the basket. It is aimed to extend this to the energy basket, through a new Renewable Energy Group Buying Initiative (REGBI). The aim is to create a green energy basket which runs for 12 months. Meanwhile churches can sign up to Good Energy directly, and this will continue to be the case. See Green Energy Suppliers.

More churches than expected opted into the Energy Basket when it was launched in 2013. This rather swamped the system. The national team have learned from this, and hope to fine tune their service for the next year. Customer service will now be managed by the Parish Buying team with their partners Total. Additional staff are being brought in to ensure an improved service.

A new fixed price approach for electricity will be adopted for churches with smaller levels of consumption.

Next year’s basket will operate from 1st October 2014 until 30th September 2015.

Churches who adopted the energy basket last year, but do not wish to be included in the 2014/15 basket, need to tell Parish Buying in writing by 1st April 2014 (email energy@nullparishbuying.org.uk). They will be responsible for finding an alternative energy supplier from 1st October 2014. If Parish Buying do not hear from you, you will continue in the basket until 1st October 2015.

Any questions, contact Parish Buying at energy@nullparishbuying.org.uk. Best to act quickly, especially if you want to join the basket for the first time.

Remember to visit Parish Buying and Shrinking the Footprint, Churches and People.

About Brian Cuthbertson

Brian is the Head of Environment and Sustainability at the Diocese of London.

Read more from Brian Cuthbertson

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