Plans for a cheaper electricity scheme for the Western Isles have taken a step forward.
An implementation plan suggests a special tariff to island families and businesses
may be available from early next year.
Hebrides Energy community supply company has revealed it is in talks with Our Power,
an Edinburgh based supplier established by 35 Scottish housing associations and local
Hebrides Energy is a partnership between the comhairle, HHP, TIG housing agency,
the Stornoway Trust and Community Energy Scotland.
However, a “cautious approach to going live with a tariff,” is being taken due to
“significant challenges and risks” according to a report.
At the last minute a similar deal with GB Energy was scrapped in December when the
supplier suddenly ceased operations.
About ten customers who had switched to the new firm during a trial period were transferred
to another provider.
“The opportunities for a community tariff still exist and will be explored again”
says the report.
Hebrides Energy has reviewed the market for a “fresh perspective” on the different
types of potential partnership models that might exist.
A key finding is the “challenge” of finding a partner that will meet all the objectives
for the Western Isles.
This includes providing services to pre-payment and total heating total control customers,
cheap electricity plus commitment to renewables along with good levels of customer
The desired elements are “not easy to co-align” while the low number of households
in the Outer Hebrides is a “stumbling block” for some potential partners.
The white label partnership with a commercial operator would allow Hebrides Energy
gain valuable experience of operating in the energy market.
Eventually it intends to secure its own licence and look at opportunities to make
savings by directly investing in island-based windfarms.
In the longer term, Hebrides Energy plans to negotiate agreements with a raft of
community wind turbine operators and the commercial operator of the planned large
Stornoway wind farm - to buy and resell electricity generated on local moorland to
Our Power is the first energy supplier in the UK to operate on a non-profit distribution
The company expects to save its members up to 10% on their household utility bills
compared to standard commercial tariffs.
It entered the market at the end of 2015 as an Ofgem licensed supplier of gas and
Talks with electricity supplier over cheaper island tariff