Proposals to cut Barnsley community heating charge by 32 per cent – helping residents save money on energy bills

The cost of energy for residents who are part of a community heating scheme could be lowered by 32 per cent following a review.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 25th November 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th November 2021, 9:32 am

Community heating was introduced by the government as a way to keep heating bills low.

Instead of having a boiler in each home, community heating networks send heat and hot water to lots of properties through underground pipes from one communal heat source.

Fuel Poverty Action say customers of these schemes “cannot switch [suppliers], nor is there any price cap or, as yet, any regulation”.

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Barnsley Council's cabinet is now proposing to lower the cost of community energy to 6.4p per KW-H, from the current price of 9.5p.

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Lib Dem Councillor Peter Fielding said in April that tenants “feel that they are being overcharged by Barnsley Council for their heating supplied through a district heating scheme which they are tied to and cannot switch their energy supplier to seek a better deal”.

Barnsley Council’s cabinet is now proposing to lower the cost of community energy to 6.4p per KW-H, from the current price of 9.5p.

The council say the average saving to a tenants’ bill would be £134 per year under the proposed new price, which will be backdated to September 1 if approved.

The average unit rate for electricity in the UK is 14.40p per kWh, according to UKPower.

Currently, 1,209 households are part of a community energy scheme in the borough.

A report to be presented to Barnsley Council’s cabinet at their next meeting on December 1 states that a review was commissioned following concerns that the prices charged by the Council for its district heating scheme appeared to be relatively high, particularly when compared to pricing in the open energy market”.

Councillor Alan Gardiner, cabinet spokesperson for core services, said: “We should all have the best possible chance of enjoying life in good physical and mental health, and being able to keep ourselves warm is so important as we move into the colder months.

“I’m pleased to be able to recommend this reduction in the price of heating for these tenants.

“The 1,209 tenants on district heating schemes pay an inclusive price per kilowatt for their central heating and hot water, and I am pleased they will be able to go into the winter knowing these fixed-rate costs are reducing significantly.”