Energy firm launches UK's first 'flexible' green tariff

Businesses that balk at the price premium typically attached to green electricity tariffs will, from today, be able to construct their own renewable energy supply deals following the launch of the UK's first flexible green tariff.

SmartestEnergy, an energy trading company that specialises in buying energy from independent generators and selling it to utilities, has developed a new service aimed directly at business customers, which allows them to specify the exact fuel mix of the electricity they use.

Jo Butlin, vice president for retail at the company, said customers would not only be able to specify how much renewable energy they want, but also what sources they want it from, providing them with the opportunity to support local projects, or technologies in which they have a particular interest.

SmartestEnergy will find itself competing with all the large utilities, which now offer various green energy tariffs, as well as renewable energy specialists such as Good Energy and Ecotricity, which have also risen to prominence in recent years.

However, a spokesman for SmartestEnergy explained that, unlike existing tariffs, the new service meant that customers could effectively construct their own supply agreement, providing those companies that want to support renewable energy but cannot justify the price premium often associated with green tariffs with a way of minimising the premium while continuing to support the renewable energy sector.

The service also allows firms to increase the proportion of renewable energy it buys over time - a practice recommended by some utilities.

Critics have claimed that with demand for renewable energy currently outstripping supply, firms procuring all their energy through some green tariffs are instead simply denying others from using that renewable energy and failing to increase overall capacity. They advise firms to gradually increase the amount of renewable energy they use as available capacity grows.

The company said it had already secured a number of customers for the new service - including Barnados, Yorkshire Building Society, and some Toyota's offices in the UK - and was looking to attract interest from more businesses, primarily in consumer-facing sectors.

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