Many UK consumers are wary of the big six energy providers, wondering if high prices are flowing through directly into excessive profits. With the average UK household paying £1264 per year for gas and electricity, that may be a valid concern – although energy companies would argue that UK consumers paid less than many of their counterparts in Europe. For example, gas prices in the UK are lower than they are in Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Ireland or the Netherlands – although they still pay about twice as much as US consumers.
However, for those who mistrust profit-driven energy suppliers, there is a refreshing alternative. Ebico is a not-for-profit supplier of energy in the UK, with the mission of offering UK consumers for electricity and gas rates. Uniquely, they don’t have any shareholders, and therefore don’t have constant pressure to maximize their profits.
How do they supply energy at lower rates?
First of all, it’s important to understand that Ebico does not generate electricity, nor does it produce natural gas. Instead, it works with a partner, SSE Energy Supply, who sells them the gas and electricity that the company then provides to its customers. SSE Energy Supply is itself part of the SSE group, one of the big six energy suppliers in the UK. However, because the company buys large quantities of gas and electricity from SSE, it is able to get preferential rates that it then passes on to its customers in the form of lower tariffs.
At same time, because the company focuses on keeping its operating costs to a minimum – and does not look to make a profit – they can get by with a very small mark-up. This results in significantly lower rates for their customers.
How the tariffs work
The company has two tariffs, one for gas and one for electricity. These are called EquiGas and EquiPower respectively. Aside from offering lower rates overall, these tariffs are structured so that consumers only pay for the energy they use – there are no additional standing charges. The company also charges the same rate for gas no matter where customers are in UK – there are no regional differences.
Another interesting aspect of the company is that they take social responsibility seriously. They are not a charity, and therefore have to generate enough revenues to cover their costs. However, when there is a surplus, they donate this money to a trust they have set up to support sustainable development. In particular, this fund works to combat fuel poverty using sustainable methods – such as financing local projects that help low-income households to make their properties more energy efficient.