Energy > Our Reviews

Bristol Energy Review

Fred Isaac

Fred Isaac
Mar 20, 2017


Bristol Energy really are a unique player on the UK energy market.

We don’t say that lightly.

It’s the first energy company to be entirely owned by the city council.

No fat-cat shareholders and no foreign investors. This is an energy company owned by, and run for, the people of Bristol.

It even promises to reinvest its profits back into the community.

It’s only had the green light to trade since December last year, so there’s not much information out there.

But it doesn’t matter; it’s an exciting new prospect and we thought we’d give you the lowdown.

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An intro to Bristol Energy - from the supplier's YouTube page

 

Who are Bristol Energy?

The first entirely council owned energy company in Britain, Bristol Energy focuses on three key areas:

* Providing competitively priced energy
* Helping lower carbon emissions
* Raising money to invest in local services

Bristol council has invested £1.5 million in the scheme and hopes to turn a 35% profit in a decade; extra funding came from the European Investment Bank.

There are fears that the initial costs of acquiring new customers will damage Bristol Energy, with the council reckoning it needs up to £4.2 million to get off the ground.

The jury is out on whether they will be able to get up and running and deliver on the core message of fairly priced energy.

Mayor George Ferguson is convinced and wants the energy firm to be a force for social good, a good tick in our Bristol Energy review.

There’s little doubting the need for Bristol Energy; fuel poverty in the city is 13.2% higher than the national average.

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Bristol Energy Tariffs

Bristol Energy's tariffs are all about simplicity. Similar to the messaging in our So Energy Review.

Whichever one you go for, you get a host of perks including no hidden costs and an online account that lets you manage your energy on the move.

If there’s a cheaper tariff you could switch to, Bristol Energy will always let you know on your next bill (although it’s worth noting most suppliers do this)

The company has a five tariffs currently available, including: 

Bristol Energy 1 Year Fix Issue 11 (Paper and Paperless Billing)

* Prices Fixed for 12 months
* Electricity and/or gas
* Pay on Receipt of Bill or Direct Debit
* Online discount per fuel with paperless billing
* No tie-ins

Bristol Energy Standard (Paper and Paperless Billing)

* Variable tariff (prices fluctuate)
* Electricity and/or gas
* Pay on Receipt of Bill, Direct Debit or Prepayment (pay as you go)
* Online discount per fuel with paperless billing
* No tie-ins

​Bristol Energy 'My Green Plus' tariff 1 Year Fix Issue 3

* Prices Fixed for 12 months
* Electricity or Dual Fuel only
* 100% renewable electricity bought from local and national generators
* Pay on Receipt of Bill or Direct Debit
* Online discount per fuel with paperless billing
* No tie-ins

It also has tariffs available for the South West and Bristol postcodes only.  

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Bristol Energy customer service

Because it is still in its infancy, it’s very difficult to say how good Bristol Energy’s customer service is.

The company promises that “exceptional customer service is at the heart of our mission to change the energy sector for good” – but which supplier doesn’t say something along those lines?

If you've had a bad experience with Bristol Energy, complain with A Spokesman Said or read our existing Bristol Energy customer complaints.

Between October and December 2016, Bristol Energy received 1119 complaints per 100,000 customer accounts, resolving 63.4% of them in the same or next working day. 

Common issues included centred on opening meter readings, direct debit reviews, estimated readings and missed appointments. 

To compare and review Bristol Energy against its rivals, we've divided 1119 by 10 to find its complaints per 10,000 customers as this is how Ofgem reports smaller suppliers complaints data.

Bristol Energy's 119 complaints per 10,000 accounts stacks up pretty poorly against its smaller rivals.

Ecotricity (29 per 10,000), Spark Energy (86), Good Energy (41), Economy (51) and Flow Energy (49) are all faring better. 

Although Bristol Energy did solve more complaints within one working day than all of these smaller rivals. 

Bristol Energy does offer a neat compensation scheme that's worth a mention. 

If it fails to keep an appointment, you'll get £22 for electricity failures and £20 for gas failures.

A nice touch.

And we particularly like the hub. The hub is a physical branch on Bristol’s Harbourside, meaning you can go in and deal face-to-face with customer service – a rare luxury in the energy sector.

You can pay bills, top up metres, get help with your bill and get energy efficiency advice for your home or business.

Customer service can be contacted on 0808 281 2222. 

 

Green Credentials

I can hear you thinking ‘come on then, they sound like one of those socially responsible companies so spill the beans, how eco-friendly are they’?

The company proclaims ‘we will be sustainable’ and says it aims to increase its renewable energy over time, whilst still fulfilling its social goals.

This suggests that, at the moment, they’re not especially green.

In January 2017, Bristol Energy published its Fuel Mix Disclosure. 

Here's where it gets its energy from (the UK average is in brackets):

* Natural Gas: 32.3% (32%) 
* Nuclear: 23.7% (24%) 
* Renewables: 24.3% (24%) 
* Coal: 17% (17%) 
* Other fuels: 2.5% (3%)  

Bristol Energy, then, is solid, if uninspiring, when it comes to green energy. Read our Bulb review if you're after a greener energy supplier. 

The supplier stresses that it does also offer a 100% renewable electricity tariff, My Green Tariff. 

 

Bristol Energy payment

Like most suppliers, Bristol Energy will usually take your cash by direct debit – but it also accepts other forms of payment like bank transfers.

You can also pay over the counter at the Post Office using PayPoint (you have to scan the barcode on the bill) and Bristol Energy also offer a prepayment meter service.

Top Tip: Bristol Energy offer a £12 discount to customers who select paperless billing. It pays to remember to choose this option.

The supplier has published a handy PDF download explaining your bill.

 

Online offering

The Bristol Energy website is very clear and easy to navigate.

You can pay bills, submit meter readings and get hold of emergency contacts using your online account.

It’s not complex, but it’s got the essentials and won’t confuse any customers.

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Recent News

Bristol Energy's MD, Peter Haigh, commented and welcomed a debate on energy prices in Parliament. 

“As a supplier set up to do things differently, we welcome this debate into unfair practices. We’ve been in business for just over a year, yet we’re still able to price our standard variable tariff below the Big Six. Energy suppliers should be encouraged to reward loyalty, not penalise people for staying with them.

“One suggestion is a relative price cap, which would set a limit on Big Six standard variable tariffs against their cheapest fixed deals. But we would call on the government to make sure any changes to the market are developed to help encourage switching, and encourage wider competition.

“A price cap is likely to cause an increase in fixed and variable prices across the sector, and reduce competition. Which is the opposite of its intention.”

 

Our Verdict

Pros:

* Community orientated energy supplier with a genuine desire to do social good
* Face-to-face service for local customers
* Competitively priced tariffs

Cons:

* With such a new company, switching to them would be a leap into the dark
* Unlikely to be one of the greenest suppliers on the market
* Limited range of tariffs

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