Almost 16,000 people have signed up to the Big Energy Switch — just over a week after the campaign to unlock group discounted electricity and gas was launched.
The national group switching campaign is aiming to attract as many members as possible and then approach energy suppliers to negotiate a better energy deal on behalf of the members.
With an initial aim to sign up 20,000 members within a month, the campaign has signed up just under 16,000 customers a week after its launch.
Co-founder of One Big Switch, Oliver Tattan, said the group was hopeful of hitting its target of 20,000 this week, but stressed that the more people who join up, the more negotiating power the campaign has.
“Our target was to get 20,000 people to join in four weeks and we are already at nearly 16,000 just over a week in. I’d expect we will hit the 20,000 mark some time this week but obviously, the more people that sign up the better.
“The more people that are involved in the movement, the more power we have when it comes to negotiating with the energy companies and the better the deal we can get for consumers,” he said.
Mr Tatton said it was clear that the campaign had caught the public imagination and said the equivalent campaign in Australia had blazed a trail in terms of the power of collective bargaining campaigns.
“We based it on other jurisdictions, particularly Australia, where one in seven households — over 500,000 homes — signed up.
“You never know how Irish households will take to something, but judging by the numbers signing up to date, it’s clearly captured the imagination. You can see the interest from the energy companies as the numbers grow,” he said.
According to the data gathered from the thousands who have joined the campaign, the price gap between the lowest and highest average electricity bill is more than €300, while there is a significant rural and urban divide.
For example, Monaghan has the highest average electricity bill at €1,589, with Roscommon the cheapest at €1,285.
Dublin sits in the middle of the table at €1,381, with counties that have major cities such as Cork in a similar position.
Approximately 40% of people who have signed up to the campaign have never switched energy supplier.
Mr Tatton said the campaign has found that rural consumers tend to switch less and are paying higher bills as a result.
He also pointed out that 75% of those who had not switched were choosing not to do so as it was too difficult or time-consuming.
“They are not choosing not to switch due to loyalty to a supplier but because its too hard or they didn’t have the time.
“That’s the beauty of the Big Energy Switch, it takes all of the shopping around and negotiating out of your hands as you are in a movement with thousands of other people,” he explained.
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