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Co-operative Energy

By Sarah Ingrams

Article 5 of 31

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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 ‘open and honest’ 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 third largest 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.

Established in 2010, it also claims its tariffs are fair and easy to understand.

Co-operative Energy sells a 100% renewable electricity tariff and also offers tariffs backed by 100% locally produced renewable electricity in certain parts of the country. This ‘green’ standard tariff is expensive, however.

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 customer score

Co-operative Energy came joint 19 out of 31 energy companies rated by 8,761 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey. This is an improvement on its performance in recent years, when it was nearer the bottom of our table following IT issues.

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

‘Approachable and knowledgeable and talk in plain English.’

Co-operative Energy customer

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 customer score shows signs of returning customer confidence in Co-operative Energy. Those who completed our survey ranked its bills and customer service good, as well as its value for money.

‘The bills have a lot of detail on them but it is all broken up so it’s easy to read.’

Co-operative Energy customer

This is in stark contrast to its performance over the past two years, when its customer score was among the lowest. In 2016, it paid out compensation to customers let down by poor complaint resolution, call handling and billing, following an IT failure in 2015.

Compare that with the present, when Co-operative Energy had low levels of complaints in the first half of 2017. Although it wasn’t among the fastest firms to resolve them.

'They always answer accurately and promptly any queries.’

Co-operative Energy customer

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.

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.

Pros: Members get a share of the profits, ethical, its customer score has improved since last year

Cons: Its standard tariff is expensive

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 summer and autumn in 2017. However, its standard tariff was its cheaper option in parts of 2016.

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.

Co-operative Energy in the news

2018

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’.

‘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.

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.

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