Bryson Energy & Derry Credit Union have joined forces with a range of other organisations including Derry City Council, the Consumer Council and National Energy Action (NI) to launch an innovative energy brokering project in a bid to lower oil prices for members of the credit union while also assisting them to budget for their fuel bills.
Just weeks after the launch of a pilot brokering project with Fold Housing Association in the North-West, this project will bring the 28,000 members of Derry Credit Union together to use their combined buying power to negotiate reductions on energy prices, particularly oil.
Laurence Arbuckle of Bryson Energy said,
"One of Bryson Energy's key priorities has for many years been the eradication of fuel poverty. This exciting project will combine the buying power of credit union members to seek reduced oil prices through bulk buying for the Derry Credit Union bond area. Members will also be referred to our energy efficiency Freephone 0800 1422 865 for independent advice and information on what they can do to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and on what grants there are available today to assist people in doing so. At the same time, our advisors will also give budgeting advice on the different methods of paying for energy and members can also avail of the various services offered through the Credit Union itself to pay for their utility bills."
Philomena Deery, President of Derry Credit Union, said:
"Derry Credit Union Limited has always strived to improve the well being of its members. We recognise that fuel poverty is a major issue in our common bond area. We see this initiative as a step towards allowing members make more informed choices with regard to the purchase of oil. "
The Mayor, Cllr Kevin Campbell, welcomed the partnership approach saying Derry City Council is supportive of any effort to lower energy prices and advise members on how to reduce costs.
"We are living in difficult economic times and any initiative aimed at helping the public get value for money is worth supporting. This partnership approach is in keeping with the Department of Social Development's Poverty Strategy launched in 2011, in which it identified key actions relating to energy brokering and budgeting for energy. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive's House Condition Survey 2009 reported that the level of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland was 44% (302,310 households), a 10% increase from the House Condition Survey carried out in 2006, which recorded it at 34% (225,580 households). With this in mind, it is hoped that this initiative will greatly assist those in most need and achieve some of the targets outlined in the strategy."
Philip O'Doherty, Chief Environmental Health Officer, Derry City Council said:
"Energy brokering and community buying are already well established in England and other countries resulting in reduced energy prices. Derry City Council with our partners in Derry Credit Union and Bryson Energy are keen to explore any mechanism, which can help local householders reduce the costs of energy this winter, particularly oil, on which so many householders depend."
The Project will commence on International Credit Union Day on October 18th and will run throughout the winter heating season when it will be evaluated and potentially rolled out more widely across Northern Ireland.