A PIONEERING scheme which aims to cut energy bills for householders in Cornwall, as well as address fuel poverty was launched this week.
Cornwall Together has brought together organisations including Cornwall Council, the NHS and the Eden Project to create a collective buying scheme which is aiming to reduce the cost of energy for residents – saving as much as £3.7 million.
It was launched this week at Eden by energy secretary Ed Davey who said that Cornwall was "breaking the mould".
It is thought to be the first time an entire county has united as a community to buy energy more cheaply, enabling it to also tackle economic problems, encourage environmental sustainability, improve community resilience and people's health and well-being. It is hoped more than 20,000 people may be able to reduce their energy bills by 10 to 15 per cent.
Every home owner and private tenant who registers on the site will also get the opportunity to see if they can save even more money with free loft and cavity insulation.
Cornwall Together will invest 10 per cent of the revenue generated from each energy switch into a fund which will address fuel poverty.
Cornwall Together will first negotiate for cheaper gas and electricity. It will then also negotiate for heating oil, to accommodate the significant number of people in Cornwall's rural areas who aren't on the mains gas grid.
Edward Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: "Cornwall Together is breaking the mould in two ways.
"First, the extent of collaboration behind the scheme shows that it's not just the usual suspects that can play an active part in the energy market. And second I applaud the explicit aim of extending the benefits of collective switching to the most vulnerable householders.
"I want clubbing together to buy and save energy to become commonplace, and am excited to see schemes like this setting an example for others up and down the country."
Sir Tim Smit, Eden chief executive, said: "Cornwall Together is born from a spirit of community. Saving money is important but the programme is also about bringing the people and businesses of Cornwall together. We hope to create more resilient communities and a deeper sense of togetherness as we negotiate as a powerful unit."
Cornwall Council chief executive Kevin Lavery, said: "Our vision is for Cornwall to lead the UK and Europe in developing sustainable energy. When we started working with partners to develop the concept of Cornwall Together we could see its potential to communities in Cornwall together, to consider their energy usage more carefully and deliver real economic, social and health benefits."