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Fuel Poverty Action

Fuel Poverty Action are a grassroots campaign that uses community organising, protest and direct action to turn up the heat on greedy landlords, corrupt government and profiteering energy companies. We do everything we can to support people in the here and now, while always keeping in mind our long-term vision of an energy system and economy based on the needs of people and the environment.

Image copyright 2013 Martin LeSanto-Smith.

Image copyright 2013 Martin LeSanto-Smith.

We’re committed to working in solidarity with those worst affected by fuel poverty, and have strong relationships with pensioners’ groups, disabled activists, anti-cuts campaigns and women’s organisations. We work alongside these groups in everything that we do. We’re also piloting a community organising project in Haringey, London, which has seen us experiment with high street stalls, surveys, practical skill-sharing and public meetings.

Alongside community organising and relationship-building, we believe that we have to directly confront those responsible for fuel poverty with protest and direct action. History shows us that these tactics have a crucial role to play in fighting injustice. Many of our group were involved in environmental direct action campaigns that helped to stop the building of a new third runway at Heathrow and a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth.

We’ve supported pensioners demonstrating in shopping centers and we’ve held fuel bill assemblies on high streets and in public spaces. We’ve targeted the government, speaking out on our experiences of fuel poverty at the Treasury and blocking the Whitehall main road outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change. We’ve also hit the Big Six energy companies, staging a ‘die-in’ protest at EDF Energy HQ and occupying the offices of British Gas for a working day last winter. Our national weekends of action have seen people across the country taking to the streets.

We’re inspired by the many examples, across the world, where people have come together to support each other in the face of injustice. In Greece, electricity workers are refusing to cut off electricity access for those who cannot afford to pay. In South Africa, communities have taught themselves how to re-connect each others’ electricity when the government cuts them off. In Bulgaria, protests against rising energy bills have brought down the government. In the UK, communities stood together and brought down the Poll Tax by refusing to pay.

Yet again, we’re facing un-payable bills. In the long term, Fuel Poverty Action believe that communities can stand together and refuse to pay once again. In the more immediate future, we’re committed to doing all we can to win the victories we need to while at the same time putting a spanner in the works of the Big Six and the government, pushing the public debate on fuel poverty and energy, strengthening local support networks and building a movement.

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Discussion

One thought on “Fuel Poverty Action

  1. Atn Clare Weldon

    Hello Clare

    We run the community-based Home Energy Centre in Ilminster, Somerset which acts as an independent, unbiased community hub to provide information to householders about energy-efficiency and how the household energy bill can be reduced. We do this through several channels, including Outreach by attending local events, and regular fortnightly events/Talks at the Centre
    We’ve noticed that in the last few months we have had many more specific enquiries and requests for help about electricity bills.

    Our different initiatives include UtilityWatch where we review a householder’s bill as a basis for reducing consumption but also by tackling the utility on the householder’s behalf, if necessary, about any errors/misunderstandings.
    We explain the basics of immediate energy-efficient measures such as loft-insulation and secondary glazing, as well as helping the householder understand the nature of energy-efficient usage of energy.
    If the householder has old appliances, we suggest Appliance Exchange, ie.replacing old appliances with new more efficient units..

    For example, we have been able to reduce one pensioner’s bill (all-electric) from £120/month to £85/month, thus taking her out of Fuel Poverty, by straightforward measures such as not only adjustments to her usage profile but also by encouraging her sons to pay for the replacement of her 46-year old heated-towelrail and her 24-year old cooker, among other items..

    Another example of action needed on bills is that of a small family that was billed by their electricity utility for £2,150 for a quarter..it was only when we had spoken to the utility on the householder’s behalf (the utility wouldn’t discuss the bill with the householder) that the utility agreed to check whether there had been a transposition error on their reading of the Economy 7 meter.. it did turn out to have been incorrectly read as Day units for Night and the bill was withdrawn as a result and reissued corrected. We were then able to work further with the family to carry out adjustments to their usage profile to achieve a lower regular bill, together with a lower household carbon footprint.

    We are at present working with a pensioner who pays a direct debit of £205/month for electricity in her small home , some five times the national average cost for a family, and are discussing with her, for example, changes to the way her night storage heaters are running. The solution will probably be to replace the night storage heaters..we have contacted her utility to ask them what actions they would recommend in order for the bill to be lower..

    We engage as volunteers with householders to help them understand the need to take action on Energy-Efficiency and Renewable Energy in order to develop a sustainable, low-carbon lifestyle which in turn would increase their level of comfort and well-being and lower their energy cost. Having a level playing field when engaging with the Black Six utilities would be a great help.

    Thanks
    Jon Lewes
    Coordinator
    localGen Home Energy Centre
    Ilminster , Somerset TA19 0BQ

    Posted by Jon Lewes | November 21, 2013, 3:45 pm

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