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Energy company reviews

Co-operative Energy

By Sarah Ingrams

Article 6 of 33

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Co-operative Energy

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

Co-operative Energy brands itself as ‘fair and transparent’ and gives its customers a say in how it’s run and where it buys its energy.

It’s part of the Midcounties Co-operative, the UK’s largest independent co-operative, which now has more than 600,000 members. When GB Energy Supply went bust in 2016, Co-operative Energy took on its customers. In May 2018, it acquired Flow Energy.

In September 2019, Co-operative Energy announced that Octopus Energy would supply its customers with gas and electricity. The partnership between the two firms will also see Octopus Energy provide customer service but Co-op will be responsible for acquiring new customers. Find out what Octopus Energy’s customers think of it.

Find out if Co-operative Energy’s tariffs are the best for you by comparing gas and electricity prices using Which? Switch, our independent energy comparison website.

Co-Operative Energy customers: what the Octopus Energy deal means for you

If you’re a current Co-operative Energy customer, you’ll remain so. You’ll still buy 100% renewable electricity although your power and gas will be supplied by Octopus Energy. Octopus Energy will also provide customer service.

Your prices will either stay the same or drop when you are transferred onto Octopus’ systems. If you are a Co-op member, you will still earn membership points. Any credit or debit with Co-operative Energy will be transferred across.

Octopus Energy will get in touch with you when the transfer is completed. It’s expected to take a couple of months. In the meantime, you should still contact Co-operative Energy customer services with any questions.

If Co-operative Energy installed a smart meter at your home, it should still work with Octopus Energy. This is because Co-op Energy only installed second-generation smart meters which work with all energy firms. Find out more about smart meters.

Octopus and Co-operative Energy will also work together on increasing community-generated power in the UK.

Co-operative Energy customer score

Co-operative Energy sits right in the middle of the table this year, taking joint position 16 out of the 30 energy companies rated by 7,429 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey. It shares 16th place with First Utility. 

This year, customers gave it decent ratings across the board. 

Co-operative Energy score breakdown

The graphic below shows the breakdown of Co-operative Energy’s score from our survey.

Scroll down to find out how Co-operative Energy fared in our call-waiting investigation and how customers choose its fuel mix.

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

This year’s survey results means Co-operative Energy sits in the middle of the table, but with a respectable four-star rating for the majority of areas, its overall customer score is still above average.  

Those who completed our survey ranked its bills and customer service as good, as well as its value for money.

Billing accuracy is Co-operative Energy's highest-rated area. An impressive 86% of customers said it was either good or excellent (four stars). Other companies performed even better for this, though: there are three firms that got a full five stars.  

Its value for money was also noted in the survey, with 79% of respondents offering a score of good or excellent. 

However, when it comes to helping customers understand and reduce energy use, respondents weren't so impressed, prompting the companies lowest rating of just three stars out of five. Comments on this area included: 'I do not feel they have given me any help in reducing energy consumption' and 'the website isn't great for this'. 

Co-operative Energy’s ‘User Chooser’ tool lets customers choose how they want their energy to be generated (hydro, solar, wind, gas, coal or nuclear), and from which particular generator site they would like it to be bought. Co-operative Energy then commits to buy the same number of units of energy you use from the sources you choose.

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.

It also answered customers’ calls and emails quickly in our snapshot undercover investigation into energy companies customer waiting times. It took just 1min 20secs on average for Co-operative Energy to answer the phone. Flow Energy and GB Energy, part of the same brand, were both slightly faster (in 45secs and 1min 2secs on average, respectively), while owner Octopus took 2mins 14sec on average.

Pros: Members get a share of the profits

Cons: Improvements could be made on helping customers understand and reduce energy use 

Co-operative Energy electricity sources

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 past year by picking its cheapest fixed tariff, especially during spring 2018. In the past couple of months, savings between its cheapest tariff and its standard tariff (which has been limited by the price cap since the beginning of 2019) have shrunk.

Co-operative Energy in the news

September: Co-operative Energy announced that Octopus Energy would begin supplying gas and electricity to its customers, and providing customer service.

February: Co-operative Energy announced it will raise its prices by 10% on 1 April. This is the date from which Ofgem is permitting energy companies to charge customers more, in line with its increased price cap.

More than 60,000 customers will be affected – only those on Co-operative Energy’s standard variable tariffs. Customers who use a medium amount of energy will pay an extra £117 per year.

July:Co-op Energy confirmed it will raise the price of its Green Pioneer variable tariff by 5% from 20 August. Dual-fuel customers will pay £61 extra per year on average.

Co-op Energy told us it has ‘sought to absorb the significant increases in wholesale energy costs this year’ but that this ‘is not sustainable indefinitely’.

It continued: ‘We have therefore reluctantly taken the decision to pass on some of these costs to customers on our Green Pioneer tariff’.

May: Co-op Energy acquired Flow Energy and its 130,000 customers. Flow Energy will continue to operate as a separate brand with its own tariffs.

April: Co-operative Energy increased the price of its standard tariff (called Green Pioneer) by 5% in April 2017. It said rising costs, including network charges and industry obligations, were to blame. It also raised dual-fuel prices by 3% in October 2016.

November: Co-operative Energy gained 160,000 extra customers when it was selected to take on GB Energy’s customers, following the supplier’s collapse.

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. It also paid out to energy charity StepChange.

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