Posted on 11th September 2018

Robin Hood Energy: Myths & Misconceptions

Robin Hood Energy was the first energy supplier in the UK to try a brand new way of doing things. We were the first not-for-profit energy company owned by a local authority. This means that we run very differently to private companies like the so-called ‘Big Six.’

While we firmly believe that, in this case, different is better, it does mean that we get a lot of questions about how and why we do what we do. To help remove any misconceptions and bust any myths, we’ve answered the most common of those questions in this guide.

Aren’t you just wasting taxpayers’ money?

Robin Hood Energy, wholly owned by Nottingham City Council, borrowed £20 million in capital funding to help set up the company. This investment was made as a loan at commercial rates in compliance with EU state aid regulations. The Council receives interest on its investment that more than covers its borrowing costs.

The company has acquired over 115,000 customers and has recently been independently valued at around £30 million – well in excess of the Council’s original investment.

Robin Hood Energy does not use taxpayers’ money. The investment capital comes from another funding source at the Council which is intended for business investments where the Council sees potential either for financial growth, to support the local community or, in this case, both.

Has Robin Hood Energy broken even yet?

Robin Hood Energy has made an operating surplus in its third year of trading. The company accounts, submitted to Companies House, have been independently audited to verify a trading surplus of £202,000. Most energy companies take at least 5 years to get to this stage.

In layman’s terms, this means that Robin Hood Energy brought in more money as revenue than they lost as an expenditure in their third year of trading.

Are your services only available to Nottingham residents?

Robin Hood Energy’s services are available to people throughout England, Scotland and Wales. We’re based in Nottingham and owned by Nottingham City Council but this does not mean that our gas and electricity is limited to the Nottinghamshire area. We have thousands of customers from across the UK.

Is Robin Hood really any different from the Big Six?

Robin Hood Energy is different because we prioritise people over profits. The Big Six’s track record of customer dissatisfaction shows that there is a need for companies in the energy sector to be better.

We are able to put our customers first because we don’t have director bonuses or private shareholders. Instead, any money that we make can go back into the business, keeping our prices competitive and improving the quality of service that we can offer.

Read our guide to the Big Six energy companies to find out more.

Is Robin Hood Energy solving a problem that doesn’t exist?

Critics argue that Robin Hood Energy isn’t solving any problems, citing the proliferation of small energy companies that have emerged in recent years. However, despite having lower prices than the Big Six, many of these companies are not committed to the public good in the way that Robin Hood Energy is.

Many of the newer, smaller providers are still privately owned and financially motivated. While this is not a problem in itself, it means that their objectives are different to Robin Hood Energy, which is publicly owned and committed to reducing fuel poverty and making energy affordable. We operate in such a way that our prices are competitive and that we can build for the future, making initiatives like the Warm Homes Discount possible for our customers.

We don’t see ourselves as the only alternative to the Big Six; that’s not the problem that Robin Hood Energy was created to solve. Instead, we see ourselves as one of the few energy suppliers in the UK trying a completely new model of business that puts people first.

How does Robin Hood Energy positively impact its customers?

Robin Hood Energy’s not-for-profit status means that we can reinvest any money that we make into better services for our clients. Alongside offering competitive prices, this also means that we can go further to make energy affordable to all.

Following the announcement of a £202,000 trading surplus in July 2018, we also announced that these funds would enable us to join the Warm Homes Discount scheme for eligible customers. The scheme will allow us to combat fuel poverty by making energy available to those in receipt of the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.

Are green tariffs available?

Yes. Robin Hood Energy is introducing two new green energy tariffs that will allow our customers to opt for their energy to be certified as coming from fully sustainable sources: primarily wind and solar power. The tariffs will fix your price for a year at a very competitive level, allowing us to continue our commitment to making energy affordable. Customers who opt for these tariffs will receive 100% renewable energy throughout the year.

The electricity that we provide for our green energy plans will be certified as being sourced from UK based wind and solar generators. We actively look for opportunities to support new schemes but some of our energy will be provided from existing UK based projects.

Are smart meters just a gimmick?

Smart meters are an important part of the future of energy in the UK. They give consumers better visibility over their energy usage and give energy suppliers information that we can use to improve our services.

It’s true that smart meters send us data. The only data that they send us, however, is information on customers’ energy usage. The customer has complete control over how often the data can be sent to. They can opt for it to be sent as regularly as every half hour, or as intermittently as once a month.

Why do we need to receive this data at all? It helps us to make our customers’ energy supply as efficient as possible and to calculate their bills accurately. This means better information for them and lower costs for us. As we’re a not-for-profit company, any savings we make go directly into improving our services for our customers in Nottingham and beyond.

Join the not-for-profit movement that is challenging the social injustice within the energy industry.

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Do you have any other questions? You can find a lot more information elsewhere on the site. Our home energy section contains details about tariffs, payments, smart meters and more. Alternatively, visit our news section to discover our latest company updates and read helpful guides.

If you can’t find the answer to your question on our site, feel free to ask us directly. You can find us on Twitter or via our contact page.