Collective energy switching: a tickle towards engaged action? by Will Eadson


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Presentation at the BSA Climate Change Study Group event, “Energy, Climate and Society: Insights from Early Career Researchers”, held on Thursday, 18 April 2013 at the University of Westminster.

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Collective energy switching: a tickle towards engaged action? by Will Eadson

  1. 1. Collective energy switching:a tickle towards engaged action?Will Eadson
  2. 2. • Collective Switching - an introduction• Research agenda• Switching as community/collectiveenergy movement• Switching as behavioural nudging• Tickling towards engaged action?• Not all switching projects are equalOverview
  3. 3. • Origins in Belgium and the Netherlands• Core principles– Individuals sign-up online– Reverse auction– Individuals decide whether to go with offer• DECC interest from 2011• South Lakeland first UK council• DECC funding Jan-March 2013Collective Energy Switching
  4. 4. • Chart the rise of collective switching as apolicy movement• Explore rationales for collective switchingfor different stakeholders• Explore role of collective energy switchingin changing consumer behaviour• Explore impacts of collective energyswitching• In particular, explore engagement with andbenefits for people in or at risk of fuelpovertyResearch agenda
  5. 5. • Residents can/will save money• It is a form of collective action that willempower communities• It will change consumer energy behaviour– more engaged with energy markets (especiallysticky consumers)– more engaged with energy usage?• It will help shape the energy market:– bring down prices– open up to greater number of suppliers– encourage move to green tariffs?Some claims / suppositions
  6. 6. • Most forms are top-down projects• Little/no collective activity involved• Use of profit-making intermediaryorganisations (near monopoly):– possible questions re. transparency?– further marketisation of energy industry?(rather than move towards communityempowerment?)Collective Energy Switching ascommunity/collective energy movement
  7. 7. • Some proponents have linked tobehavioural psychology theories, especiallyideas around nudging• Some appeal to social norms• But largely passive and no real feedbackmechanism• No default options• What does it nudge consumers to do interms of behaviour change?Collective energy switching as behavioural nudging
  8. 8. • Not really a community/collective movement...• Not really a behavioural nudge in itself...• But... LAs using as route to engaging on otherenergy-related projects and advice• And for many a first experience of engaging withenergy market• A hook to get people involved in energy action:– could be seen as ploy to gather data on communities formarketing– ...or as genuine means for engaging people on energy• Possibility to generate surpluses to reinvest incommunity energy action?Tickling towards active engagement?
  9. 9. • Scale of project/auction• Partnership approaches– other LAs (generate scale)– Housing associations– Community groups (depth?)• Engaging residents– Mass media– Housing officers– Community energy champions– Local service centres / small businesses• Engaging energy suppliers– Reverse auction through intermediary– Direct contact• Add-ons to switch– Sweep of energy market for alternative tariffs– Using to engage with Green Deal, energy advice, income maximisations (for fuel poor)• Use of surpluses(?)– Fund future projects– Fund fuel poverty– Profits?Variety of local collective switching approaches
  10. 10. • A new phenomenon in the UK– Still being perfected in action• Not a panacea for market or individualenergy ills• Lots of questions remain re.equity, transparency and efficacy• But... potentially a useful hook to draw intoother schemes / interventions• And... begin journey towards energyawarenessSummary