Thousands of people have signed up to one of the country’s largest consumer networks in an effort to use people power to save money on household bills.
As part of its second campaign to cut the cost of electricity and gas, OneBig-Switch.ie is looking for 25,000 households willing to switch energy provider as a group.
The idea is simple — consumers sign up to the campaign online or over the phone and One Big Switch then negotiates a discount on behalf of the group.
Once a final offer is agreed upon, they pass it on to the individual consumers who can consider the deal and redeem or reject it.
The campaign plans to use the buying power of a large group to spark competition in the Irish energy market and aims to start a price war between energy companies.
“There’s no real significant indication on the horizon that prices were going to go down any time soon. Something needs to give,” said Sarah Ryan, director of campaigns with One Big Switch.
“The one thing that really does work is people power, and people coming together as one. I think that’s one of the reasons this campaign works so well. Groups of people together can implement change.”
Last year, more than 60,000 people signed up to the campaign, which managed to secure a discounted deal with Bord Gáis.
“I think it really shook up the market. It was something that needed to be done,” said Ms Ryan. “We were looking for 20,000 people to sign up to the last campaign, but we got more than 60,000. Even still, there were a lot of people who missed out on that one. We’ve been getting phone calls from people ever since, looking for us to do it again.
“In its first day alone, more than 3,000 people signed up for a discount on their energy bill. We’re already considerably ahead of the numbers for the first day of the last campaign. Last time we had just over 2,300 sign up the first day. We’ve already surpassed that this time around.
“We’re confident that, with the combined people power of 25,000 consumers, we can unlock group discounted electricity and gas offers. That could mean real savings for tens of thousands of Irish households and result in further rate reductions from energy retailers reacting to the sudden spike in competition.”
As such, the group also want to send a message to politicians — that people in Ireland want to see action on the cost of energy nationwide.
“There’s a disconnect between people’s daily lives, and the pinch they’re feeling, and what politicians think is going on, which is why we want them to really pay attention to this campaign,” said Ms Ryan.
“The energy bill is the big household budget anxiety bill. It’s the one people are most anxious about coming in and the one they struggle the most to pay.”
While wholesale energy prices seem to have fallen significantly since 2013, the group says these savings are not being passed on to the Irish people.
In contrast, retail energy prices have increased over the last two years.
Oliver Tattan, co-founder of the organisation, called on customers to voice their frustration about Ireland’s cost of living by voting “with their feet”.
“We are launching this campaign to help turn frustration into action, and action into real savings for Irish families,” he said. “It’s just not right that Ireland has some of the most expensive energy in Europe. That is completely unacceptable.”
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