In praise of Dale Vince and Ecotricity: A green entrepreneur backing Labour

Labour donor: Dale Vince Pic Credit: ecotricity

Labour donor: Dale Vince gave £250,000
Pic Credit: ecotricity

The disclosure that an entrepreneur has had the temerity to back Labour with a £250,000 donation has led to the usual  scramble in the national media to discredit the man and his company, Ecotricity. The Telegraph has recently done a thorough job  presenting the multi millionaire as a tax avoider, a greedy guzzler of state subsidies set up by one  former energy secretary, Ed Miliband, and owner of a castle. Presumably since Ecotricity doesn’t appear to advertise in The Daily Telegraph they felt brave enough to publish.

What is entirely missing from the article – and this  is surprising as the Telegraph champions competition –  is  support for a company challenging the energy monopoly. No mention of what his company does for ordinary people – which  you cannot get from the big six privatised and mainly foreign-owned giants who make millions from our gas and electricity bills.

I use Ecotricity for both my gas and electricity. One of my reasons is that I would rather spend my money with a company that has a real track record of investing in renewable energy than fossil fuels.

But take that aside – even though many on the right hate wind farms and believe global warming is a myth – Ecotricity has other plus points. Without wishing to act as an advertisement for Ecotricity – this site has no advertising – it seems to me, whatever faults Dale Vince may or may not have, at least his firm tries to offer the consumer a  better deal.

For a start the Telegraph ignores the fact that unlike any of the big six Ecotricity is  recommended  alongside other small companies by Which? as one of the better service providers.It came first for customer satisfaction as well.

Second it employs people in Stroud,its own HQ to deal directly with its customers.This compares with one of the big six I used in the past that had its call centre in India and lost my account when I moved house.. For nearly a year I wasn’t billed for electricity on my  new Berkhamsted home. When I raised this in India the officious   Eon/Powergen call centre worker demanded I sorted out all the paperwork myself – which I refused to do – and then desperately asked for an address   “any address ” he said to bill me. I was tempted to give him a false one in New York City to celebrate the follies of outsourcing and globalisation but honesty got the better of me.

Unlike the big six Ecotricity accepts direct debits for the actual amount of gas and electricity billed – you don’t have to pay a monthly overestimate for what you might use – a great scam allowing companies to take too much money off you for unused energy and use your loan to boost their own profits.

Fourth, Ecotricity is planning to cut prices by 6.2 per cent this May and promising more later in the year  – more than any of the big six and they never raised their prices in the last tranche either. This is something I have to remind the cold callers from the big six desperate for you to switch to them.

Fifth Ecotricity  gives you a good return on the money if you  invest in them.. It offered seven per cent  (7.5 for customers)before tax and its second issue offered six per cent gross (6.5 for customers) on its oversubscribed bonds – far more than the  four per cent  the” generous” George Osborne  is offering  pensioners in the run up to the election.

Some financial advisers have told me they can only offer these good rates of interest because of taxpayer subsidies. But it seems to me that the subsidies for cleaning up nuclear power waste – provide five times more money for the big six energy providers than the sums going to Ecotricity. Even the Telegraph acknowledges that.

But in a pre-election frenzy no right-wing paper  seems to want to acknowledge that anybody backing Labour can offer better value for money.