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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Callum
    • By MSE Callum 19th Apr 17, 2:47 PM
    • 272Posts
    • 33Thanks
    MSE Callum
    MSE News: Small supplier Bulb cuts energy tariff thanks to 'LOWER wholesale costs'
    • #1
    • 19th Apr 17, 2:47 PM
    MSE News: Small supplier Bulb cuts energy tariff thanks to 'LOWER wholesale costs' 19th Apr 17 at 2:47 PM
    Renewable energy supplier Bulb will be reducing its variable dual fuel tariff by around 3% next week...
    Read the full story:
    'Small supplier Bulb cuts energy tariff thanks to 'LOWER wholesale costs''

    Click reply below to discuss. If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply. If you aren’t sure how it all works, read our New to Forum? Intro Guide.
Page 1
    • Maxwell007
    • By Maxwell007 19th Apr 17, 3:38 PM
    • 230 Posts
    • 73 Thanks
    Maxwell007
    • #2
    • 19th Apr 17, 3:38 PM
    • #2
    • 19th Apr 17, 3:38 PM
    You’re currently paying about £710 a year on tonik.

    By switching to Bulb you’ll be paying around £746 a year.


    Your energy will cost £62 a month an increase of £3 a month.

    • Raxiel
    • By Raxiel 20th Apr 17, 10:00 AM
    • 287 Posts
    • 117 Thanks
    Raxiel
    • #3
    • 20th Apr 17, 10:00 AM
    • #3
    • 20th Apr 17, 10:00 AM
    You’re currently paying about £710 a year on tonik.

    By switching to Bulb you’ll be paying around £746 a year.


    Your energy will cost £62 a month an increase of £3 a month.

    Originally posted by Maxwell007
    Is the Tonik tariff 100% renewable though? It doesn't seem all that bad for anyone who wants a green tariff.

    Edit: I see Tonik is 100% renewable on CEC, still not bad compared to the big 6
    Last edited by Raxiel; 20-04-2017 at 10:04 AM.
    • FullForce
    • By FullForce 20th Apr 17, 11:26 AM
    • 43 Posts
    • 13 Thanks
    FullForce
    • #4
    • 20th Apr 17, 11:26 AM
    • #4
    • 20th Apr 17, 11:26 AM
    You’re currently paying about £710 a year on tonik.

    By switching to Bulb you’ll be paying around £746 a year.


    Your energy will cost £62 a month an increase of £3 a month.

    Originally posted by Maxwell007
    Are the new prices now being shown on the CEC?

    Because I have to currently look a very long way down to see Bulb.
    (Perhaps that's why they had to cut their extortionate prices?)

    e.g. according to CEC, in West Midlands supply region

    Tonik (Positive Energy v2)
    Unit rate: 12.800p per kWh
    Standing charge: 21.504p per day

    and £40 p.a discount if you need gas too

    Bulb (Vari-Fair)
    Unit rate: 13.268p per kWh
    Standing charge: 27.300p per day

    and £30 p.a discount if you need gas too
    (but + £100 pa if you get that gas via an IGT! )

    Edit:
    Or I can buy from Avro (Simple & Go)
    Unit Rate: 11.813p per kWh
    Standing Charge: 18.900p per day

    Avro do not say they are 100% renewable, but it's the same electricity you get through the same wires & meter, no matter who you buy from
    Last edited by FullForce; 20-04-2017 at 11:31 AM.
  • Will at Bulb
    • #5
    • 20th Apr 17, 12:17 PM
    • #5
    • 20th Apr 17, 12:17 PM
    Not yet FullForce. Our price change will go ahead from Monday, so you'll be able to see it then.
    Official Company Representative
    I am an official company representative of Bulb. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE
    • lstar337
    • By lstar337 20th Apr 17, 1:00 PM
    • 3,171 Posts
    • 1,675 Thanks
    lstar337
    • #6
    • 20th Apr 17, 1:00 PM
    • #6
    • 20th Apr 17, 1:00 PM
    Avro do not say they are 100% renewable, but it's the same electricity you get through the same wires & meter, no matter who you buy from
    Originally posted by FullForce
    However, your money does go toward renewable sources.

    Not something that I care about, but a growing number of people do so it is worth mentioning.
  • jamesd
    • #7
    • 21st Apr 17, 6:26 AM
    • #7
    • 21st Apr 17, 6:26 AM
    Will,

    Please let me know when Bulb will remove this claim from the web page:

    "with Bulb, you get 100% renewable electricity on one of the lowest tariffs out there"

    As I hope you are aware, Bulb has no control over the energy that is actually supplied to the customer and cannot ensure that it is 100% or even 1% renewable. Nor can the grid deliver that, except perhaps in locations on the other side of a DC link or other supply island, due to the fundamental nature of how electricity transmission works.

    I wonder, does Bulb have any customers in areas where most electrical power is provided by diesel generators, most likely on an island?

    Of course Bulb does know that the claim isn't really true because on the energy page Bulb says this instead:

    "When you switch to Bulb, we make sure that for every unit of electricity you use, a unit is produced and put on the grid by a pollution free renewable source"

    Of course, that's not true either. So far as I'm aware there are no pollution free renewable sources that Bulb can pay because they all have embodied pollution to some degree from the components involved in the production and getting the electricity to the grid connection point then transforming it to grid voltage. And Bulb also seems to recognise that because on the energy mix page the claim is changed again, this time to "We make sure that each unit of electricity supplied to our members is matched 100% with electricity generated from renewable sources".

    And that's finally close enough to the truth. So how about replacing the more prominent claims with that?
    Last edited by jamesd; 21-04-2017 at 7:15 AM.
  • jamesd
    • #8
    • 21st Apr 17, 7:50 AM
    • #8
    • 21st Apr 17, 7:50 AM
    Now, Bulb also makes this claim: "our 100% renewable electricity leads to zero carbon dioxide emissions and no radioactive waste".

    That's almost certainly between misleading and untrue, of course, so lets try getting a little closer to the truth with some questions:

    1. How much radioactive material is released by the suppliers Bulb pays to produce electricity?

    2. How much radioactive waste is produced indirectly by the suppliers Bulb pays to produce electricity?

    Neither of those questions is likely to have none as the correct answer.

    That's because burning material containing organic matter like wood or household refuse releases a range of radioactive materials onto the atmosphere, either directly or via things like burning methane from anaerobic digestion and Bulb says it pays biogen providers for 15% of the electricity produced in the most recent period. They are only not radioactive waste producers in the same sense that burning coal doesn't produce carbon dioxide waste because it releases it into the atmosphere instead. Dumping stuff into the atmosphere doesn't get rid of it even if a lawyer can claim that it doesn't meet some legal definition of whether it's nuclear waste or not. I hope that Bulb would agree that coal generators shouldn't be claiming to produce no carbon dioxide waste and that Bulb shouldn't be doing the equivalent with respect to its claims about nuclear emissions.

    The second question is closer to having none as the true answer but it's almost certain that in the equipment used to generate the electricity non-destructive testing will have used nuclear sources that do ultimately become nuclear waste. Most likely in turbines of hydro-electric sources, say.

    This post has mostly focused on electricity but given that ten percent of the gas purchased is not from fossil sources it appears that Bulb's sources are leading to higher levels of radioactive material release into the atmosphere than most providers. How do the Bulb-related emissions of radioactive materials compare with other UK gas suppliers?

    Anyone unfamiliar with the issues should realise that fossil gas has no radioactive carbon, for example, because it's all decayed between the time the material was buried and today. But more recently living things have sequestered undecayed radioactive carbon and other isotopes and release them into the atmosphere when burned. Much of that sequestered radioactive material was originally produced during atmospheric nuclear weapons tests and the effect of this is gradually decreasing as the isotopes decay, so eventually the new biologic sources will have release levels closer to those of fossil sources.

    Nobody should be worried by the discussion of radioactive material in this post. The levels involved are not generally significant on a small scale even though some of the radioactive carbon and other isotopes are absorbed into our bodies and stay there.
    Last edited by jamesd; 21-04-2017 at 8:58 AM.
  • Will at Bulb
    • #9
    • 21st Apr 17, 2:16 PM
    • #9
    • 21st Apr 17, 2:16 PM
    Hi Jamesd,

    The short answer is that we have no plans to stop advertising ourselves as a "100% renewable electricity" supplier. We feel it is the most succinct and descriptive way of explaining what we do. And, as far as Ofgem, the ASA and the environment are concerned, it is perfectly accurate.

    We completely appreciate that it is more nuanced than those 3 words on their own. And we're very happy to go into more detail for everyone who is interested in learning more. But at the end of the day, your energy bills are still going to renewable generators rather than fossil fuel generators, thus changing the demand for each.

    The problem we have with replacing "100% renewable electricity" with the phrase you quoted is that, in marketing terms, it is a novel. It is very long and would have a very significant impact on our ability to complete our mission: to bring people over to green energy. Instead, the 3 words "100% renewable electricity" are much better.

    On your nuclear point, I would argue that we do not produce any nuclear waste at all, even in the insignificant proportions that you're discussing. It would, if anything, be nuclear neutral, in the same way that our green gas is carbon neutral. All the carbon-14 that is released by our gas is originally pulled from the atmosphere. Therefore, the net effect is zero. In fact you could even argue that by pulling it and storing it, we are having a net decrease effect, but we won't go down that rabbit hole.

    Also, while you accurately pointed out that fossil fuels contain no carbon-14 (with it's 5000 odd year half life, they've all decayed) there are other naturally-occurring radionuclides in fossil fuels. Fracking and coal in particular release amounts of uranium, thorium, radium and radon, and their decay products. These are not "nuclear neutral". In the same way that burning fossil fuels releases carbon that would have remained stored in the Earth's crust indefinitely, it also released these radionuclides that would have also remained stored. The net effect of burning fossil fuels is an increase of nuclear waste in the atmosphere.

    However, your last sentence sums it up neatly. It is insignificant. To the point where nobody considers it important relative to the waste from a nuclear power plant or the greenhouse emissions from a fossil fuel power plant.

    All the best,
    Will
    Last edited by Will at Bulb; 21-04-2017 at 3:16 PM.
    Official Company Representative
    I am an official company representative of Bulb. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE
  • jamesd
    Will, is there a place where I can read past complaint decisions by Ofgem and the ASA on those points, without going and making a new complaint? That means in particular a past decision on the Bulb claim that "you get 100% renewable electricity". If there are no past decisions, I'm going to make those complaints myself, starting with the ASA.

    So far as the radioactive emissions go it should be clear that somebody considers them significant because I'm objecting to them and going to complain about the misleading advertising unless there have been past decisions in response to complaints already.

    It's true that there are releases of natural radioactive materials from fossil fuels, that's why a person living within fifty miles of a coal generation plant is expected to receive three times the radiation dose from the plant as one instead living within fifty miles of a nuclear plant. But my point was about all of the emissions, including the partly human-made radionuclides like carbon 14, not just natural ones.

    I appreciate that you will be inclined to argue it because your claims are pretty. But pretty isn't enough. They also have to be accurate and not misleading, and you must hold evidence to support them and they do not meet that standard. So if you'd like to get started on considering what will happen when I complain to the ASA on one of the points it will start something like this:

    'Bulb claims "you get 100% renewable electricity". Elsewhere they make conflicting statements indicating that this claim is not true and all they really do is buy renewable energy in an amount matching the amount supplied over the whole year. Please ask them to either produce the evidence to back up this claim that their customers get 100% renewable energy, as required, or to remove it and replace it with something true instead'

    Naturally I'll include more detail than that, and I will do the same to enumerate each of the individual points of complaint and ask them to require from Bulb the evidence that Bulb must have to support the claims on each point.

    This doesn't necessarily mean that Bulb is a bad supplier or can't come up with accurate and not misleading claims. But it does mean that today Bulb is telling its current and prospective customers that "you get 100% renewable electricity" and I'm not going to simply let Bulb continue to make that claim. Unless, that is, Ofgem and the ASA have ruled that the claim meets the required standards.
    Last edited by jamesd; 21-04-2017 at 3:51 PM.
  • Will at Bulb
    James, there have been no complaints handled by Ofgem that we are aware of, simply because we are using the same definition for "renewable supplier" that Ofgem use. If you are concerned by this, then please, by all means discuss it with them.
    Official Company Representative
    I am an official company representative of Bulb. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE
    • Raxiel
    • By Raxiel 21st Apr 17, 3:59 PM
    • 287 Posts
    • 117 Thanks
    Raxiel
    All matter above absolute zero emits radiation of some sort. The average person would consider 'nuclear waste' to mean substances emitting an unnaturally high level of ionising radiation as a result of an industrial process (be that from a nuclear power station or medical x-rays).

    You're free to raise a complaint with the ASA, but I think you'll have as much luck with them as someone who complained about an advert that included the term 'around the globe' on the basis that some people think the world is flat.
  • jamesd
    Will, I do not disagree that Bulb is a renewable energy supplier. My concerns are the specific claims Bulb is making which appear to be untrue and/or misleading.

    With regard to your earlier claim that:

    'we have no plans to stop advertising ourselves as a "100% renewable electricity" supplier. We feel it is the most succinct and descriptive way of explaining what we do. And, as far as Ofgem, the ASA and the environment are concerned, it is perfectly accurate.'

    and the extent to which that applies to the claim that "you get 100% renewable electricity " I see that to date the ASA has handled one complaint about Bulb and they say this about it:

    "After consideration of complaints we received, the following companies and organisations agreed to amend or withdraw advertising without the need for a formal investigation.
    Bulb Energy Ltd t/a bulb
    05 October 2016 Number of complaints: 1
    Media: Internet (on own site) "

    The me, that doesn't really give the impression that the ASA thought everything was OK but of course I can't read the whole complaint and decision.

    There are a few ways to proceed from here. The least desirable one is probably me continuing with the discuss with ASA approach that I've already taken but go on to making a complaint. I'll do that if needed, of course.

    But there's a way that may be better and certainly less adversarial, so a good deal more pleasant all around. They are willing to review material and give informal opinions and reach agreements instead. So as an alternative, would you be willing to provide them with a link to this and the various things that I've mentioned and ask them to take a look so that they can discuss them informally with Bulb and maybe resolve things that way?

    That should be a good deal better and at the worst get rid of the easiest issues with much less strife. And less strife is probably better all around.
  • jamesd
    It's perhaps also worth mentioning two areas where we're probably in strong agreement:

    1. Bulb are the good guys
    2. We want Bulb to grow as a result of the MSE mention.

    Bulb isn't evil, this is just about the understandable enthusiasm going a bit further than it should, particularly when it comes to the claim about what customers actually get delivered to them.
  • Will at Bulb
    Our previous discussion with the ASA was around clarifying some terms for an energy monitor trial that we were running at the time, which we were happy to do. It's not relevant in this situation. My comment about the ASA was that, to our knowledge, the ASA has never ruled against a supplier describing their energy in the way we do, and they have been describing themselves as such for at least 21 years.

    I appreciate your thoroughness, but we really don't think that any of the ways we describe ourselves are a cause for concern. So we're going to throw up our hands here and say that we believe that we're completely in the legal, moral and semantic right here. If you disagree, it is your prerogative to take it further.
    Official Company Representative
    I am an official company representative of Bulb. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to queries about the company, so that I can help solve issues. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. I am not allowed to tout for business at all. If you believe I am please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com This does NOT imply any form of approval of my company or its products by MSE
    • phillw
    • By phillw 22nd May 17, 10:28 AM
    • 672 Posts
    • 336 Thanks
    phillw
    As I hope you are aware, Bulb has no control over the energy that is actually supplied to the customer and cannot ensure that it is 100% or even 1% renewable.
    Originally posted by jamesd
    I would have thought that everyone was aware that you pay Bulb to buy enough renewable energy to meet your usage and that gets added to the national grid as that is the basis for energy supply in the UK.

    The electricity is no different & you've done something for the environment. If it turns out that they are not buying enough renewable energy then that would an issue. It's the same as companies producing fair trade and non fair trade chocolate is done on a percentage system. If 20% of the beans they buy is fair trade then they mix it all together and label 20% of their bars as fair trade.
    Last edited by phillw; 22-05-2017 at 10:33 AM.
  • jamesd
    The differences are:

    1. There really are places and things you can buy where you really do get what you're told you're getting.
    2. Those firms aren't lying to their customers by claiming that they get a green supply, they really are delivering it.

    By lying, this firm is harming consumers and the competing businesses which genuinely deliver on it, whether that's home solar, district heating or whatever else.

    And no, everyone wasn't aware, like one of the people I spoke with at the ASA. Which isn't surprising when you have a supplier which doesn't deliver lying and confusing people. If more firms are telling the same lie then I want all of them to stop lying.
    Last edited by jamesd; 23-05-2017 at 8:13 AM.
    • phillw
    • By phillw 24th May 17, 10:00 AM
    • 672 Posts
    • 336 Thanks
    phillw
    1. There really are places and things you can buy where you really do get what you're told you're getting.
    Originally posted by jamesd
    If a company produces fair trade and non fair trade goods & you buy a fair trade product then your extra money is used to pay for the fair trade raw ingredients, but you don't necessarily get the fair trade ingredients yourself.

    2. Those firms aren't lying to their customers by claiming that they get a green supply, they really are delivering it.
    Originally posted by jamesd
    It's not a lie. You're over simplifying it and then making an argument based on a distorted viewpoint. The electricity isn't any different (like the fair trade cocoa beans aren't), you're paying for green energy to be produced and they are getting it produced for you. The delivery mechanism means that everyone's energy is mixed together.

    If more firms are telling the same lie then I want all of them to stop lying.
    Originally posted by jamesd
    I'm interested in your motives, because they don't seem honourable.
  • jamesd
    My motive is to stop energy suppliers from lying about whether the energy actually supplied to their customers is renewable or not. There are providers that really do supply such energy. With its lie this one is claiming to be one of them.

    Your fair trade comparison would be a company that has on the packet a claim that it is fair trade content but actually just has the same fair trade content as the one with the generic no fair trade or average market fair trade content label next to it on the shelf. That harms the one one the other side of it which really is all fair trade content and the consumer who is trying to buy fair trade goods.

    Just like the fair trade false claim packaging this energy from could instead tell the truth about their customers getting no more or less renewable energy than their neighbours buying from British Gas or EDF or whoever else.
    Last edited by jamesd; 24-05-2017 at 3:05 PM.
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