Tag Archives: Services

40% Drop In Heating Cover Could Leave Consumers Out In The Cold

•Financial gamble: number of people taking out heating cover on their boilers has dropped 40% in the last year

•Safety gamble: 42% ignore industry safety advice to get boilers checked once a year, risking carbon monoxide poisioning

•No peace of mind: two thirds of households (65%) don’t have any form of emergency heating cover

•Paying the price: nearly one in three boilers breaks down within six years of being installed, cost of replacing four key boiler parts can reach £1200.

As winter bites and with people still feeling the bitter chill of recession, new research from uSwitch.com, the independent price and comparison switching service, reveals a 40% drop in the number of people taking out or renewing heating cover compared to this time last year. As a result more than two thirds (65%) of households do not have any type of heating or boiler cover in place, potentially taking a risk with their finances and their health.

Nearly one in three boilers breaks down within six years of being installed, and the cost of repair can spiral up to £1,200 to replace the four key boiler parts. In comparison, the average yearly cost of heating cover comes in at £122 or just over £10 a month.

However, this isn’t the only risk. Gas boilers should be serviced every year to minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisioning, but 42% of households ignore these guidelines. Worryingly, one in ten – almost three million households – have never had their boiler serviced while the same number again have only ever had their boiler looked at when it’s gone wrong. According to the Gas Safe Register (which has taken over from Corgi), in the last year 14 people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning and 234 have suffered health problems after being exposed to the deadly gas. Recommended counter measures include having an annual gas safety check and installing a carbon monoxide alarm.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Household budgets continue to be stretched, but what seems like an easy saving could cost you dearly in the long term. Those who have cancelled or decided against cover might think they are just taking a chance with their money, but if they are also not getting their boiler checked they are taking a chance with their health.

Via EPR Network
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npower Funds Solar Panels For Swimming Centre

Funding from npower means that a swimming pool that is part of a multipurpose centre on the Stackpole Estate in Pembrokeshire has been installed with enough renewable technology to make it the largest collection of solar thermal panels across the National Trust.

npowersolarpanel.jpg (182×120)

Funding from npower – as part of the National Trust Green Energy Fund – enabled a total of 19 flat-plate solar panels to be installed on the roof of the pool at the Stackpole Centre by local contractor West Wales Solar Heating. The Green Energy Fund project invests in small scale renewable energy generation and other carbon saving projects at Trust sites across Wales and England.

The Welsh produced solar panels now provide free heat to a pool that used to cost thousands of pounds a year to heat. The result is not only lower running costs for the Trust but another important small step towards lowering environmental impact and reducing climate changing carbon emissions

The project, which cost £18,000, will enable the pool’s water to be heated by the power of the sun; supplemented for now with a gas system but with plans to move to a biomass heating system in the near future. The system works by water continually being pumped from the pool into a storage tank where it is heated up by energy created from the solar panels.

Keith Jones, Environmental Practices Advisor for the National Trust in Wales, said: “The National Trust is committed to reducing our own energy footprint and in developing projects that can enable people to learn about adaptation and efficient resource use and saving money. This is the largest solar panel system of its kind within the National Trust, and it is estimated it will produce 58,400Kw every year or the equivalent of almost 160 electric heaters left on for an hour every day of the year (saving over a third of its previous energy consumption).

“As far as we were concerned this was a very simple calculation – an investment equivalent to 18 months’ worth of gas costs to heat the pool and it will have paid for itself in six years. In summer and the warmer days this system will provide most if not all the heat for the pool.”

The solar panels also have a digital display, which will enable members of the public and resident guests using the pool at Stackpole Centre, to see exactly how much energy is being produced by the solar panels during their visit.

Allan Robinson from npower said: “npower is proud to have funded the National Trust’s largest ever solar heating system at Stackpole. In partnership with the National Trust, npower is providing expertise and financial support to help those looking for ways to be more energy efficient and make financial savings along the way.”

Via EPR Network
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Energy Price Cuts This Year – 12% For Online Customers But 4% For Everyone Else

•Energy price cuts in 2009: 4% or £54 for standard plan customers, but 12% or GBP133 for online customers

•At the beginning of the year, online plans were £170 cheaper than standard plans – today they are £249 a year cheaper

•Best kept secret: despite consistently lower prices only 1.3 million or 5% of households are on online energy plans

•Winter worry: two thirds (65%) of people are worried about the cost of their energy bills as we head into winter

•Affordability concerns: almost two in ten households (19%) are finding it difficult to afford their energy bills

•Cutting back: 57% of households are already cutting back on energy to make bills cheaper while a further 17% are planning to join them.

While the majority of households have seen energy prices drop by 4% or £54 this year, new research from uSwitch.com reveals that households who are on suppliers’ online plans have enjoyed cuts three times this size. Since the beginning of 2009 their prices have been reduced by a healthy 12% or £133, leaving online customers paying £249 less than standard customers.

While the debate about whether suppliers should be cutting prices again in light of lower wholesale costs rumbles on, households on online plans are sitting pretty. They have seen bills drop from £1,123 on the 1st January to £990 today. However, households on standard plans have not fared so well – their prices have dropped from GBP1,293 at the beginning of the year to £1,239 today, barely making a dent in the 42% or GBP381 increase in energy prices seen last year.

Via EPR Network
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Combined Cycle Performance Analysis Conducts On Site Training

COMBINED CYCLE PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS will conduct power plant training at the customer’s site. The training course PERFORMANCE AWARENESS TRAINING is designed to familiarize the plant Operations and Maintenance staff with plant performance. Custom power plant training is also available upon request.

The company provides consulting to the Combined Cycle power industry. Services include Plant Performance Evaluations, power plant training, and custom power plant consulting.

Via EPR Network
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uSwitch.com Calls For Tougher Rules And Regulations To Govern Energy Doorstep And Direct Salesmen

uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, is calling on industry regulator Ofgem to bring out tougher rules and regulations to govern energy doorstep and direct salesmen, after new research revealed that their sales tactics are leaving people feeling pressured, intimidated and on the wrong energy plan for their needs.

According to the research, almost 7 million UK households have taken out an energy plan on their doorstep or through a direct salesperson. However, less than a quarter of people who have done so (22%) believe they got a good deal. Of these, only 6% said that it reduced their bills significantly while just 16% said that they were very pleased with the deal they took up. On the flip side, 17% found that their new deal cost them more money than the one they switched from and almost a quarter (22%) said that they could have done better elsewhere.

Over four in ten people (44%) think that direct sellers on their doorstep, high street, at the local supermarket and on the phone are a nuisance. But for some consumers it crosses the line into something altogether more sinister with 22% finding salespeople intimidating and 59% finding the process too pressured, preferring time to think and make their own mind up.

More than a third of people (37%) think that salespeople don’t present them with enough information to make an informed choice, while almost half (45%) don’t like the fact that salespeople only represent one energy supplier – they would prefer to know what all the companies are offering instead.

As a result of growing unease and, in some cases, outright distrust, 82% of consumers would not buy directly from a salesperson. Almost a third (32%) would like to see tighter regulation, but over half (53%) would like to see the practice banned. Despite the fact that many elderly and vulnerable customers prefer to buy face-to-face or with direct human contact, almost three quarters of consumers (72%) say that direct selling does not have a valuable role to play in helping these groups to switch.

According to Ofgem, over half of consumers who switched in the past year did so through a direct or doorstep seller and vulnerable and prepayment meter customers are more likely to switch in this way. This suggests that rather than an outright ban, the regulator should be looking to keep open this important route to market for vulnerable consumers, but make sure they are fully protected and able to get the same level of information as those consumers who are able to shop around or do their own research.

Although Ofgem is bringing in rules to ensure that direct sellers have to provide consumers with a written quotation, uSwitch.com would also like to see consumers given more information about the types of deals available to them and a prompt to research the market before signing on the dotted line.

Via EPR Network
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Only 52% of Energy Customers Satisfied with Customer Service

A year of price cuts has seen the energy industry improve its image in the eyes of consumers, according to the latest independent Customer Satisfaction Report published today by uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service. 65% of energy customers are satisfied with their supplier – a 6% increase on last year when suppliers’ popularity suffered because of eye watering price hikes totalling 42% or £381.

However, while overall satisfaction levels have improved, there are still some key areas for concern, including customer service which remains a thorny issue with consumers. In fact, little over half of energy customers (52%) are satisfied with their supplier’s customer service and, tellingly, only 45% of people would recommend their supplier to somebody else. Despite price cuts averaging out at 4% or £54 in total this year, only 51% of customers think their supplier is giving them value for money. Although a 6% improvement on last year, it is still 5% lower than in 2007 when suppliers last cut prices.

Suppliers are engaged in an online price war, bringing out increasingly competitive new plans. But consumers are sceptical about whether their supplier has their best interests at heart. Only 40% of customers are satisfied that their supplier has them on their best deal.

The report, based on responses from over 5,000 energy customers in the UK, suggest that suppliers are gradually getting back on track, with satisfaction levels almost as high as those of October 2007, another price cut year. However, there are clear differences between the big six suppliers. While Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) satisfies almost three quarters (73%) of its customers, poorest performer npower only satisfies 54%.

npower has been rated bottom for satisfaction by consumers for the second year running, but despite this has still seen an 8% improvement on last year. British Gas, which previously held the bottom slot (in 2007), has seen an 11% improvement in customer satisfaction this time.

Ann Robinson, Consumer Policy Director at uSwitch.com, says: “Last year’s hefty price increases damaged the public’s perception of energy suppliers. As a result, the industry saw a noticeable drop in satisfaction levels. This year, suppliers are starting to get back on track, winning customers over by cutting prices and bringing out increasingly competitive new plans. But if they are to make a real dent they have to focus on customer service – just 52% of people are happy with customer service, which is poor by any industry’s standards.

“With such clear differences between suppliers there is no excuse for consumers putting up with bad service. If you are not happy that you are on the best deal or getting value for money – speak to your supplier. Only around 1.3 million or 5% of households are on online energy plans and paying the cheapest energy prices in the market – consumers can do something about this. If you are still unhappy with the service you are getting, then it’s time to look around for a new supplier. There’s some good news here. Not only could you save up to £425 on your energy bill, but switching is also the one thing that suppliers consistently do well. Almost three quarters of customers (74%) are satisfied with this part of suppliers’ service.”

Via EPR Network
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Space Time Insight’s New Geospatial Composite Solution For The Oil And Gas Industry Is Purpose-Built To Help Oil And Gas Executives And Operations Teams To Get Every Drop Of Value From Each Asset

Oil & gas companies have mobile and stationary assets distributed across thousands of square miles – and have immense volumes of with data on every aspect of their business growing by the hour. Composite applications f r o m Space-Time Insight (www.spacetimeinsight.com) leverage oil and gas companies’ prior investments in technology to deliver real-time, comprehensive situational awareness all on one screen – and the ability to take action f r o m the same screen. This helps oil and gas companies realize their vision of managing operations in real-time and on-demand. Oil and gas companies that do manage their operations in real-time and on demand can dramatically increase field productivity, decrease operating costs, and increase average production rates.

Space-Time Insight CEO, Mark L. Feldman, PhD, predicts, “Using geospatial composites f r o m Space-Time Insight, oil and gas companies will be able to realize the same dramatic benefits our customers in other industries have already experienced: improved asset performance, reduced costs, and decreased downtime, increased profit margins and the ability to prevent crises f r o m turning into catastrophes.”

The Space-Time Insight solution for the oil and gas industry is available now and includes the Space-Time Asset Composite and Space-Time Crisis Composite, tailored for the oil & gas industry.

For more information on the solution, to see a recorded product demonstration, or read a white paper about how Space-Time Insight delivers benefits to the oil & gas industry, visit www.spacetimeinsight.com.

Space-Time Insight composite applications for the oil and gas industry automatically integrate features and data f r o m geographic information systems (GIS), real-time weather, data feeds, real-time environmental and equipment sensor data feeds, and data f r o m enterprise systems for asset management (EAM), production forecasting, field engineer scheduling and dispatch, cost analysis, environmental, health, and safety (EHS), and compliance, and inventory systems. Composite features include visual environmental impact indexing and features enabling condition-based and proactive maintenance. Benefits include the ability to prevent minimize downtime, prevent or proactively mitigate leaks and spills, and increase production rates through improved asset performance.

About Space-Time Insight:
Space-Time Insight products deliver intuitive, geospatial-temporal visualizations, contextual real-time analytics, condition-based alerts, remedial action schemes, and workflow links that enable accelerated, geo-aware responses – f r o m a single screen.

Via EPR Network
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Consumers Will Welcome News That Small Energy Suppliers Are Challenging Their Bigger Rivals With Market Beating Plans

The move will give more choice, especially for those looking for an alternative to the big six energy suppliers who dominate the market.

Two challengers – OVO Energy and First:Utility – have launched highly competitive online energy plans. OVO’s plan averages out at GBP978 a year, while First:Utility’s plan is market beating, averaging out at GBP967 a year. This makes it GBP16 cheaper than EDF Energy’s online energy plan, which costs GBP983 a year on average and is the cheapest plan offered by one of the big six.

First:Utility’s plan is available in 12 out of 14 energy regions and, unlike its other plans, does not require consumers to have a smart meter installed. In the remaining two regions, its smart meter online plan is available and it has just announced that it is dropping the price on this too. OVO’s plan is a fixed price plan, which means that customers will continue to benefit even if prices go up during the duration of the plan. However, there is an exit penalty attached.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “This is the first time that a ‘challenger’ energy provider has gone head-to-head with major suppliers on price and beaten them. This is because their size works in their favour – they are quick and nimble and able to react to falling wholesale prices quicker than their bigger rivals. It’s good news for those consumers who have been looking for a viable alternative to the big six, but who are concerned about paying more for their energy as a result.

About uSwitch:
uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and telephone-based comparison and switching service, helping consumers compare prices on gas, electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones, personal finance products and car insurance.

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Free Flow Power Corporation Announced Today That David J. Youlen Will Join The Company As Chief Operating Officer Of Its Development Subsidiary, Free Flow Power Development LLC

Free Flow Power is developing hydrokinetic generation and new conventional hydropower generation on existing dams to extract clean renewable energy from moving water without building new dams or diversions. Mr. Youlen is the former head of North American Generation Development for Brookfield Renewable Power where he was responsible for development activities for hundreds of hydropower, pumped storage, and wind projects. Prior to development at Brookfield, he was VP Operations for 75 operating hydroelectric facilities in four states.

David J. Youlen

Mr. Youlen remarked, “This is the most exciting time to be involved in hydropower development in my lifetime. The hydrokinetic technology development is very important to the growth of hydropower in this country. My priority is to be at the right place to capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities that lie ahead for this industry. I think this is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ kind of opportunity, and the team I’m joining is well positioned to take advantage of it.”

Mr. Youlen has 35 years of experience in the development and management of electric generation, transmission and interconnection facilities. Prior to joining Brookfield, Mr. Youlen was the former Managing Director of Hydroelectric Generation at Reliant Energy.

Mr. Youlen is a member of the board of directors and past president of the National Hydropower Association (NHA), and serves on the board of directors of the Independent Power Producers of New York. He is the 2009 recipient of NHA’s Dr. Kenneth Henwood Award, the hydropower industries highest honor, and the 2007 recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Rickey Medal for achievement in the field of hydroelectric engineering. He holds a bachelors of science in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is a licensed professional engineer in the State of New York.

Dan Irvin, CEO of Free Flow Power Corporation commented “Dave fills a key position in our management team. We admire what he has accomplished over his career, have great respect for his talent and experience and are completely impressed at how clearly he sees the landscape in hydropower.”

Via EPR Network
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86% of People Fail Test to Make Energy Bill Add Up

A straightforward test to see whether consumers can calculate an energy bill correctly has thrown up some shock results – with 86% of people getting it wrong. Of more than 2,700 people taking part almost 2,400 failed to make the bill add up correctly, even though they were allowed to make notes and use a calculator.

The test is being run by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, and is based on a mock-up of an energy bill with sub-totals blanked out. Consumers have to work out the missing numbers and calculate the end total. So far, it has left most people flummoxed. Despite being a common household bill only 379 people have arrived successfully at the correct total – a pass rate of only 14%.

Now more consumers are being urged to take part to see if they can do any better. The test can be found at: www.uSwitch.com/bill-challenge. People can also sign a petition for energy bills to be made simpler, clearer and easier:http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/betterbills/ – over 7,000 concerned consumers have already signed.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “You shouldn’t need to be an ‘A’ grade student to be able to understand your energy bills. It’s deeply worrying that only 14% of people have passed what should be a straightforward test – it serves to highlight the fact that large numbers of consumers are in danger of being excluded because energy bills are far more complicated than they need to be. Ofgem is looking to address this, but it’s vital that consumers make their voices heard too.”

E.ON Fires Latest Salvo in Online Price War

E.ON has launched a new fixed price online energy plan – FixOnline 3 – which allows consumers to fix their prices until 1st December, 2010. The plan is only available to those who will manage their account online and pay by monthly direct debit. In return, they will be paying the second lowest energy prices currently available in the market and will only be paying £1 more than if they were on the cheapest plan in the market.

E.ON’s new plan averages out at £984 a year, while EDF Energy’s average bill size comes in at £983. However, EDF Energy’s plan is only available in 10 out of 14 energy regions, which means that many households, including those in London, will not be able to benefit. E.ON, and British Gas which brought out a new competitive online plan only yesterday, will be able to target those areas missing out.

With suppliers cutting online prices, hopes are that it will encourage consumers to start paying by direct debit again. New uSwitch.com data revealed a 7.3% decline in the number of switchers opting to pay by direct debit. If the trend continues, it could result in 342,000 households ditching direct debits this year – and losing £33.5 million in discounts on their energy bills as a result.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “To see two of the big six suppliers launch competitive new energy plans in as many days is great news both for consumers and the market. The price war is injecting new life into the market and making consumers sit up and take note. If they take advantage of the lower prices now available it will help them to manage their energy costs going forward.

“If consumers want to benefit they need to ditch their expensive standard plans and move to one of the new online energy plans. The average standard plan is £1,239 a year while the average online plan is now £1,015 a year – this is an easy saving of £224 a year for the average household. With winter fast approaching, it’s a saving households should definitely be looking to make.”

Via EPR Network
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Direct Debit Fears Could Cost Consumers £33.5 Million

Ofgem is being urged to act quickly to stem the flow of consumers ditching direct debits and opting to pay energy bills by cash or cheque instead. New data f r o m uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, shows a 7.3% drop in the number of switchers paying by fixed monthly direct debit, falling f r o m 92% a year ago to 85.3% today. Across the market it could mean 342,000 households less a year taking up the option and losing out on discounts totalling £33.5 million as a result.

According to Ofgem, over 40% of customers pay their energy bills by direct debit. Not only is this payment method convenient, but it is cheaper too as suppliers give discounts to customers paying in this way. These amount to £98 a year on average. The impact on household bills is noticeable – while the average household energy bill for a customer on a standard plan paying by cash or cheque is £1,239, this drops to £1,141 on average for those paying by direct debit.

More importantly, paying by direct debit is the gateway to suppliers’ cheapest tariffs – these can be found on their online energy plans. To get them, consumers need to pay by direct debit. The average household energy bill for an online customer is £1,021 – £218 cheaper than for a customer on a standard plan paying by cash or cheque.

But despite the cost implications, consumers are starting to shun direct debits. According to uSwitch.com this stems back to last year’s 42% or £381 price hikes which only hit many direct debit customers this year. Almost a third (30%) only had their direct debits increased in the first three months of this year – even though the price increases happened last year. As a result, many were playing catch up to make up for months of under paying and so were shocked when their supplier advised them how much their direct debit had to be adjusted by to compensate.

Not surprisingly, when advised of increases to direct debits a third of people (33%) felt compelled to contact their supplier. Following this 4% cancelled their direct debit even though this would increase the cost of their energy. And they’re not alone – according to the new data there has also been a 217% increase in people choosing prepayment meters (up f r o m 0.6% to 1.9%) and a 106% increase in people choosing variable direct debits – up f r o m 1.6% to 3.3%. In total, these shifts in payment methods could see 351,900 households paying more for their energy than they need to this year.

“Paying by direct debit opens the path to the cheapest energy prices in the market – this is not something to give up without a fight. If you are worried about the amount you are paying, contact your supplier to find out whether the monthly payment can be lowered. Make sure you are paying the lowest possible price for your energy by shopping around, cut down on the amount of energy you use and make sure you or your supplier is taking regular meter readings. Above all, be aware that coming off fixed monthly direct debit and paying by cash, cheque or variable direct debit will cost you money. This should always be a last resort.”

Via EPR Network
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British Gas Fights Back in Online Price War

British Gas has launched a new online energy plan, finally stepping into the price war that lost it its crown as Britain’s cheapest supplier. However, it hasn’t made an all out bid to reclaim its title. Instead it has gone for a tactical approach, hitting EDF Energy in its ‘home’ regions – the areas where it is the incumbent supplier.

British Gas’ new Websaver 4 energy plan averages out at £994 a year, while EDF Energy’s average bill size comes in at £983. However, EDF Energy’s plan is only available in 10 out of 14 energy regions, which means that many households, including those in London, will not be able to benefit. British Gas, by making its new plan available in all areas, will be able to target those areas missing out. Its new plan is also available to existing customers.

The online price war is also proving very timely for consumers coming off fixed price energy plans this year. With the potential for further price cuts and online prices currently so competitive, these are being urged to think carefully before fixing again as they could incur an exit penalty if they change their mind at a later date.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “This is another shot in the price war – but it certainly isn’t the final one. It will shake things up, but we are certain to see other suppliers making moves of their own. This is great news for consumers who are starting to see some very competitive energy prices coming onto the market which, if they take advantage, will help them to manage their energy costs going forward.

“If consumers want to benefit they need to ditch their expensive standard plans and move to one of the new online energy plans. The average standard plan is £1,239 a year while the average online plan is now £1,021 a year – this is an easy saving of £218 a year for the average household. With winter fast approaching, it’s a saving households should definitely be looking to make.”

Via EPR Network
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Free Flow Power Corporation, A Hydropower And Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Company, Welcomes TheAddition Of J. Mark Robinson To The Company’s Advisory Board

Mr. Robinson retired in June as the Director of the Office of Energy Projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), where he was responsible for FERC’s regulatory approval of new energy infrastructure development projects, including hydropower projects, transmission facilities, gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas terminals and certain forms of energy storage facilities. Mr. Robinson is currently the principal of JMR Energy Infra, which provides strategic consulting services concerning the development of major energy infrastructure.

J. Mark Robinson

Dan Irvin, CEO of Free Flow Power, commented, “Mark has been a respected leader at the center of US energy policy for many years. His experience and judgment are an invaluable resource for any company working to transform America’s energy infrastructure. We are delighted to have him join Free Flow Power’s team.”

Mr. Robinson remarked, “Free Flow Power clearly represents the new vision needed to spur development of our Nation’s hydropower resources. I am very pleased to be a part of what will be a strong effort to deliver more clean energy from our working rivers and oceans.”

About Free Flow Power Corporation:
Free Flow Power Corporation (FFP) is a hydropower developer and technology company focused on using the force of rivers, streams, ocean currents, and tides to generate electricity without building new dams or diversions. FFP operates through two subsidiaries: Free Flow Power Technology LLC is manufacturing the SmarTurbine™ system to capture energy from free-flowing water, and Free Flow Power Development LLC is developing hydropower and hydrokinetic generation projects in the US, primarily in the Mississippi River Basin.

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Household Energy Prices Are Set To Tumble Again As E.ON Launches A New Online Energy Plan

The new plan sees E.ON become Britain’s second cheapest energy supplier, coming just behind EDF Energy. E.ON’s energy plan averages out at £1,017 a year, while EDF Energy’s average bill size comes in at £983. However, EDF Energy’s plan is only available in 10 out of 14 energy regions, which means that many households will not be able to benefit.

British Gas has been forced into third place by today’s move, leading to mounting speculation that Britain’s biggest supplier could make a bid to regain its crown by bringing out a market beating new plan. This would be even better news for consumers as it would push the cost of online energy plans down even further.

The online price war is also proving very timely for consumers coming off fixed price energy plans this year. There are 4.6 million UK households currently on fixed or capped energy plans – many of these were savvy enough to fix their prices last year therefore avoiding much of last year’s price hikes.

However, many of these plans are coming to an end and households will be thrown back onto the market. If they don’t act they could be pushed back onto a standard energy plan, which would see their annual bill increase by just under £100. However, if they take advantage and move to the cheapest online energy plan they could actually see their energy bill fall by £62.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “The online price war is hotting up and energy prices are coming down as a result. If consumers want to benefit they need to ditch their expensive standard plans and move to one of the new online energy plans. The average standard plan is £1,239 a year while the average online plan is now £1,025 a year – this is an easy saving of £214 a year for the average household.

It’s also good news for people coming off low price fixed rate deals. They managed to avoid much of the 42% hike in prices last year and are still sitting on a competitive plan today. Now, as this plan comes to an end, they have the option to move online and save a further £62 on the cost of their energy. This is a real lifeline to those who were worried about where they were going to go next and who could see that moving back to a standard energy plan was going to cost them dear.”

Via EPR Network
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Should We Expect Further Price Cuts As British Gas Reports Increase In Residential Profits?

•Centrica’s profits fall 5%, while British Gas residential reports an increase in half year operating profits of 80% to £299 million (2008: £166 million)

energy Price Cuts

•Falling wholesale prices contribute to increased half year profits for British Gas residential

•Some of the benefits of falling wholesale prices already passed onto customers – British Gas has cut its prices twice this year shaving 10% or £126 in total off the average dual fuel bill

•Increase in profits should cushion customers from future price increases, and may even allow for further price cuts

• Average household bill for a dual fuel British Gas customer has dropped from £1,328 to £1,202 this year – £290 or 32% higher than its average bill of £912 on the 1st January 2008

•British Gas has led the field in offering the most competitive energy plan, only recently losing its crown to EDF Energy.

Centrica’s results today reveal that while overall profits have fallen, British Gas residential has reported a significant uplift in profits as a result of falling wholesale prices. Some of these benefits have already been passed onto customers with two price cuts this year totalling £126 or 10%.

This increase in profits should mean that customers can expect to be cushioned for some time from future price increases – last year BG increased prices by £416 or 46% – and there may even be the possibility of further price cuts to come

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says:”This increase in profits can only be a good thing for British Gas customers. While customers have already benefitted from two price cuts this year, today’s results should hopefully give them the peace of mind that they are unlikely to see any price increases for some time, and may even benefit from a further price cut. This year British Gas has led the field in offering the most competitive online plan in the market only recently losing its crown to French rival, EDF Energy. With today’s announcement, British Gas is in a strong position to fight back and reclaim the spot as Britain’s cheapest supplier.

“But rather than holding out for further price cuts, consumers should help themselves now by making sure they are paying the lowest possible price for their energy and learning to use less of it. Moving to dual fuel, paying by direct debit and signing up to an online plan will all help save money – in fact switching to a competitive plan could cut your energy bill by up to £425.”

About uSwitch:
uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and telephone-based comparison and switching service, helping consumers compare prices on gas, electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones, personal finance products and car insurance.

Via EPR Network
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Do You Think You Understand Your Energy Bills?

uSwitch.com is campaigning for household energy bills to be made simpler, clearer and easier for consumers to understand after asking an examining board to give an independent assessment of the state of Britain’s energy bills. The findings were shocking – 45% of Brits may not actually be qualified enough to understand a household energy bill.

Energy Bills

According to examiners, people would need at least a higher grade GCSE or O’ level in maths to be able to get to grips with a household energy bill. This is because of the complexity and format of the information provided. But last year only 55% of GCSE maths students achieved this. Based on this pass rate, almost half of the population could be expected to struggle to understand an energy bill.

In reality, three quarters of people (75%) find energy bills confusing and 57% find it difficult to work out how their bill has been calculated. Because of this consumers are being urged to take action by:

-Joining the ‘Simpler, clearer, easier’ Facebook group: www.uSwitch.com/simpler-clearer-easier – Signing the ‘Better bills‘ petition: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/betterbills/ – Taking part in the uSwitch.com Energy Bill Challengewww.uSwitch.com/bill-challenge

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com says:”You shouldn’t need to be an ‘A’ grade student to be able to understand your energy bills. As things currently stand 45% of consumers are in danger of being excluded because of the complex way in which energy bills are written and presented today.”

Ann Robinson continues: “Ofgem is looking to address this, but it’s vital that consumers make their voices heard too. Take the challenge, join the ‘Simpler, clearer, easier’ group on Facebook and sign our e-Petition to get energy bills made simpler, clearer and easier for consumers to understand.”

The uSwitch.com Energy Bill Challenge:

45% of people are not sufficiently qualified to understand a household energy bill – are you one of them? Find out if you’ve got what it takes to get to the bottom of a typical bill by taking the uSwitch.com Energy Bill Challenge at:


Have paper, a pen and a calculator to hand and don’t forget to visit Facebook afterwards to let us know how you got on. And just in case you think it’s too easy, here’s what the Head of Mathematics at the examining board said:

Chair & Head of Mathematics, Edexcel:The amount of information, lack of explanations and format of the bills make them very difficult to process…… These things would make them inaccessible for most GCSE candidates unless considerable explanation was given.”

Good luck!

For more information visit www.uSwitch.com or call 0800 093 06 07

Via EPR Network
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npower Launches Return Of Wallace And Gromit Advert

npower launches return of Wallace and Gromit to the small screen in a cracking new energy efficiency advert.

Wallace And Gromit Advert

In the latest 30 second ad the famous pair suffers another calamitous mishap when Wallace concocts a baa-rmy scheme to fill his loft with sheep for better insulation. As poor Gromit ‘rams’ shut the loft hatch, the ceiling begins to crack and the entire flock, along with plaster and rubble, come tumbling down.

Luckily npower Bob appears to tell them there is an easier way: most homes have poor loft insulation, so it’s wise to prepare for winter with the npower loft home insulation service to help save time, money and sheep.

Wallace and Gromit’s appearance is the second of a series of npower adverts starring the duo. Each ad will be characterised by the famous duo doing what they do best and inventing hair-brained schemes to make their home more energy efficient.

The ad, which premiered on Thursday 23rd July during the Home Show at 8.30pm on Channel 4, aims to highlight the benefits of insulating lofts properly and how Britain’s brightest energy company is helping to make energy efficiency easier. It follows the success of the first npower ad starring Wallace and Gromit, which aired in March this year and has sent installations of energy efficient boilers soaring.

Kevin Peake, npower marketing director, said: “Wallace and Gromit are a family favourite and the most famous Oscar winning duo in Britain. We’re hoping their positive approach to energy efficiency will help people see how simple it is to make small changes and a big difference to their energy bills.

“Although home insulation may not be an obvious priority while the weather’s warm, now is an ideal time to tick it off the to-do list as ready to save energy and money in the winter months.”

Even for those with loft insulation, the message is to check that it meets the recommended 270mm depth.

Supporting the campaign are two market-leading offers for loft insulation. For the DIY market, npower has teamed up with insulation manufacturer Rockwool and national builders merchant Build Center to offer 2for1 on rolls of insulation with free delivery thrown in. For those who don’t fancy having a go themselves, npower will provide and install the loft insulation in people’s homes.

Further details and terms and conditions for both offers are available on the npower website.

About npower:
npower is one of Britain’s largest electricity supplier and supplies gas, electricity and related services to 6.6 million customers across the UK. npower is a market leader in renewable energy and sources the green energy for juice directly from renewable sources, at no extra cost.

RWE npower has been awarded the prestigious CommunityMark from Business in the Community (BITC). npower is the only utility business, amongst 21 other companies in the UK, to receive this accolade. The CommunityMark is a new BITC standard which has been created to recognise companies that are good investors in local communities and who have brought about real and positive changes.

Via EPR Network
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EDF In Bid To Become Britain’s Cheapest Energy Supplier

EDF in bid to become Britain’s cheapest energy supplier

•EDF Energy brings out new online plan which is now cheapest on market – average annual bill £983
•New plan undercuts British Gas – previously Britain’s cheapest supplier – by £35. Will British Gas retaliate?
•Consumers set to benefit as average online price tumbles again to £1,029 – £210 cheaper than the average standard energy plan
•Households stuck on the most expensive standard plan in the market are now paying£379 a year more on average for their energy than those on the cheapest online plan.

EDF Energy has made a bid to take over British Gas’ spot as Britain’s cheapest energy supplier. The French supplier has today launched a new online energy plan that will cost households £983 a year on average – undercutting British Gas’ online plan by £35.

The announcement is the third this week where suppliers have brought out more competitive online energy plans in response to lowering wholesale prices and calls from consumers to lower prices. npower’s new plan in particular offers good value for those households with high or low energy usage. Expectations of an online energy price war have been raised and now all eyes will be on British Gas to see how it responds.

The recent moves have helped bring the average online energy bill down to £1,029 a year. Online plans now offer consumers a saving of £210 on average compared with traditional standard plans.

Will Marples, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “The message from suppliers is now clear – if you want to cut the cost of your energy you have to go online. This is where competition is being played out and where consumers will feel the benefit of lowering wholesale prices.

“Online energy plans are now £210 a year cheaper on average than standard energy plans. This is an easy saving for households to make. I would urge anyone who is serious about cutting their bills to ditch traditional energy plans and move online today.”

Via EPR Network
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Dr. Edward Lovelace Has Been Appointed By Free Flow Power as Executive VP of Engineering

Free Flow Power Corporation announced today that Dr. Edward Lovelace has joined the company as Executive Vice President of Engineering at its wholly-owned subsidiary, Free Flow Power Technology LLC. Dr.

Lovelace will also be joining Free Flow Power Technology’s board of directors. Free Flow Power is a hydropower and hydrokinetic technology and project development company with offices in Gloucester, Massachusetts, New Orleans, Louisiana and Bellingham, Washington.

Dr. Lovelace was formerly Director of Engineering Development at Satcon Technology Corporation (NASDAQ CM: SATC), a market leader in power inverters that aggregate electricity from large-scale solar installations and synchronize it with the grid, and a developer of machinery and controls technology for propulsion and power conversion.

Prior to his nine years with Satcon, Dr. Lovelace spent six years with General Electric, where he was a Senior Control System Engineer in the Aircraft Engines Business Group. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, and a minor in Technology and Policy, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received the three-year Eisenhower Doctoral Fellowship award and has published and presented several papers primarily in the field of permanent magnet machinery and controls, including a first-prize paper for the IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications.

In announcing the new hire, Daniel Irvin, the CEO of Free Flow Power, commented“This is a key position for us. Ed is the perfect guy to optimize utility scale systems that bring output from many variable speed generators to the grid or a large industrial consumer.”

Dr. Lovelace remarked, “I have followed Free Flow Power’s developments since last year and became captivated by their whole approach from the product technology to the business strategy. I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to put my skills to work driving the engineering development plan through successful commercialization, and joining a team that has everything we need to succeed in this environment. Hydropower has been undervalued as a clean renewable resource, which is truly amazing given how significant the opportunity is in this arena.”

Free Flow Power Corporation is a hydropower and hydrokinetic generation company operating through two subsidiaries, Free Flow Power Technology and Free Flow Power Development. Free Flow Power Technology has developed the SmarTurbine Generator hydrokinetic technology to extract energy from moving water without building new dams or diversions or causing other adverse environmental impacts. The company is developing projects to deploy its hydrokinetic generators and to install hydroelectric generators on existing dams. Most of these projects are on the Mississippi River.

Via EPR Network
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