Britain tries bulk buying for energy

Feb. 8, 2012 at 4:52 PM
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LONDON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- British Energy Secretary Edward Davey says bulk buying energy would be a "game changer," producing lower energy bills for consumers.

"I have long believed that collective purchasing will be a game-changer in terms of handing power back to consumers," Davey said. "As energy secretary I am determined to take this agenda forward. I want to make it easier for consumers to club together and use collective purchasing power to reduce their gas and electricity bills."

The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that 40,000 people in Britain signed up for a pilot program in which the collective purchasing power of, potentially, hundreds of thousands of consumers could be put to the test.

The aim is to use collective purchases to negotiate for lower electric rates.

It is the first time collective buying of energy has been tried in Britain, the newspaper said.

The effort is being handled by the consumer advocacy group Which? When enough consumers have signed up, Which? will put the contract up to a "reverse auction" in which the lowest electric rates offered gets the contract.

"We are urging anyone who is angry about the state of the energy market to sign up," said Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? "The bigger the group, the stronger our bargaining power will be.

"The Big Switch is the first chance to do this in the U.K., and an opportunity for the energy suppliers to demonstrate that they're serious about changing their ways and putting consumers first."

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