Council energy deal to save households up to £200 a year
A SCHEME designed to help people cut their energy bills by switching supplier is set to be extended across Derbyshire over the coming weeks.
Talks between Derbyshire County Council and a leading consumer group over the running of the Big Deals scheme are at an advanced stage.
Once set up, households on similar tariffs will be grouped together and "auctioned" off to the energy supplier that offers them the best deal.
Last month, the council said it needed to find 5,000 households to register an interest before it could hold talks over the running of such a scheme.
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That figure was reached within three weeks, paving the way for the council to open discussions with the consumer organisation, which would act as an agent in finding customers the best deals.
A spokesman for the authority said it would not reveal the identity of the organisation until final agreement had been reached, but added that talks had progressed well.
"We are expecting an agreement will be signed with the company within the next fortnight," he said.
Council leader Andrew Lewer said that his Tory group was keen to help families with their household bills.
He said: "Gas and electricity are the biggest household expense for many families, with average bills doubling in the last 10 years.
"But if just 2% of Derbyshire households sign up to a Big Deals scheme, they could each save between £60 and £200 each year.
"That's a saving of up to £1 million for local people.
"We all know we should shop around but sometimes it seems too complicated to switch your gas or electricity company.
"Derbyshire Big Deals is about helping local people come together to save money as well as making it easy to switch."
Mr Lewer said that, once the scheme was up and running, the consumer group that partners up with the council would take care of the entire switch.
"They will even cancel the person's contract with their current supplier," he said. "The customer will not have to do anything."
The Big Deals scheme is based on a similar project in Holland that helped save customers around £200 on a £1,300 bill.
To register an interest in the Big Deals scheme, visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/big deals or call 01629 533 365.
After registering an interest, customers can still choose not to go ahead with the switch after receiving the offer from the new supplier.