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Small energy companies

Co-operative Energy

By Sarah Ingrams

Article 1 of 20

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Co-operative Energy

Co-operative Energy supplies energy nationwide and has no shareholders – Co-operative Energy members get a share of the profits instead.

Co-operative Energy is part of the Midcounties Co-operative. This is the UK’s third largest co-operative, established in 2010, which now has more than 600,000 members. 

Co-operative Energy claims to be an ethical provider and to give its customers a say in how it’s run and from where it buys its energy. It also claims to offer fair and easy to understand energy tariffs.

Will Co-operative Energy offer you the cheapest energy deal? Find out by comparing it with the rest of the market - use Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity deals.

Co-operative Energy customer score

Co-operative Energy came 20th out of 23 energy companies rated by 8,917 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey - the biggest of its kind. It was ranked similarly last year by its customers.

To calculate the customer score, we ask customers how satisfied they are with the company and if they would recommend Co-operative Energy to a friend. 

‘As a member of the Co-operative I get a share in the surplus, not private or corporate shareholder controllers'

Co-operative Energy customer
The table below shows the breakdown of its score from our survey. Scroll down to find out how Co-operative Energy fared in our call-waiting investigation and why regulator Ofgem fined it £1.8m in 2016. 
Co-operative Energy survey results
Area of performance Star rating
Customer service and complaints handling
Value for money
Bills (accuracy and clarity)
Helping you to save energy
Customer score 54%

(Survey: October 2016, responses of 158 Co-operative Energy customers.)

Find out how Co-operative Energy compares with other energy companies - click to see the results of the best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on Co-operative Energy

Co-operative Energy aims to be transparent and focus on its customers and long-term social sustainability.

Customers can become Midcounties Co-operative members for £1 and receive a share in its profits. Co-operative Energy was also the first energy supplier to get a Fair Tax Mark accreditation for its responsible tax.

However, over the past two years, Co-operative Energy's customer satisfaction rating in our survey has been low. In 2016, it paid out compensation to customers who had been let down by its poor complaint resolution, call handling and billing, following an IT failure in 2015. Scroll down to ‘Co-operative Energy in the news’ to find out more.

'It isn't the highest charger, nor the lowest.'

Co-operative Energy customer

One customer told us: ‘It seems to have problems with the website, so it's difficult to resolve problems like making payments.’ Another said the bills ‘could be a lot simpler. Sometimes the timing of the bills makes it look like I've missed a payment or paid an extra month - I have to wait for the next bill to see if it has averaged out’.

But it’s not the lowest-scoring small supplier this year – that’s Extra Energy. Plus, we found big improvements in how quickly it answered the phone to its customers in our snapshot call-waiting investigation in 2016.

Co-operative Energy was the third-fastest energy firm to answer the phone to its customer services, in an average of 1 minute 4 seconds. This is nine minutes faster than its average pick-up time in 2015.

In our survey, customers rated its value for money reasonable - but better than its customer service, bills and attempts to help them save energy. As one customer said: ‘it seems quite reasonable’ and another added: ‘It isn't the highest charger, nor the lowest.’

Pros: No shareholders; members get a share of the profits, ethical, answers the phone to its customers quickly

Cons: Its customer score is low for the second year in a row, after dropping dramatically

Co-operative Energy fuel mix

Where Co-operative Energy gets its fuel from:

  • 17.41% Coal
  • 30.13% Natural Gas
  • 11.89% Nuclear
  • 33.95% Renewables
  • 6.63% Other

(Note: This information was correct January 2017.)

Co-operative Energy prices

The graph above shows how Co-operative Energy’s variable (also called standard) tariff and its cheapest fixed tariff compare with the cheapest fixed tariff available on the market over the past year. As you can see, Co-operative Energy customers could always save over the last year by picking its cheapest tariff, especially during the cooler months. 

In February 2017, Co-operative Energy announced a 5% average price rise for customers on its standard tariff (called Green Pioneer), from April 1. It says 96,000 customers will be affected by the increase but not those who were formerly GB Energy customers.

It said it had “absorbed a number of rising costs, including network charges and industry obligations” but this is “no longer sustainable and we have reluctantly taken the decision to pass on some of these costs to customers”.

In October 2016, Co-operative Energy also increased its gas and electricity prices by an average of 3%. Prices for those on prepayment meters increased by an average of 6%. 

Co-operative Energy in the news

2017

February: Co-operative Energy announced a 5% average price rise for customers on its standard tariff (called Green Pioneer), from April 1. It says 96,000 customers will be affected by the increase but not those who were formerly GB Energy customers.

2016

November: Co-operative Energy gained 160,000 extra customers after GB Energy Supply stopped trading. It was selected to take on the customers by energy market regulator Ofgem, following a competitive tender process. Co-operative Energy said customers would continue to pay the same amount and it would offset any credit built up with GB Energy Supply against future use.

October: Co-operative Energy paid £1.8m to customers let down by its complaints resolution, call handling and billing processes, following regulator Ofgem's announcement on 27 October. It also paid out to energy charity StepChange.

The problems were the result of its new IT system in March 2015 - we reported on this in 2015, after receiving many complaints. These included stories about lengthy telephone waits, problems with receiving billing information, passwords not being recognised, difficulty providing online meter readings and emails being ignored. At the time, Co-operative Energy apologised and said these were linked to its then new customer service system that had some ‘teething problems’. 

2012

The Co-operative Energy won the Which? auction in May 2012, when it put forward two market-beating deals. It gained 30,000 customers as a result, in the UK’s first collective switch.

The Co-operative Energy was also awarded the Positive Change Award at the Which? Awards 2012.

Fed up with high energy bills and poor customer service? Use Which? Switch to find the cheapest energy deal.

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