Introducing the Cornwall Local Energy Market

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions for Residents

What is the Cornwall Local Energy Market?

Centrica is creating the UK’s first Local Energy Market in Cornwall. This Local Energy Market will be a virtual marketplace where homes, businesses, renewable energy generators and electricity network owners will be able to buy and sell energy. 

So, why Cornwall, and what is the Local Energy Market trying to achieve?

The electricity network was designed and built to transfer electricity from big power stations to homes and businesses. It was not built with lots of small renewable energy plants and people’s homes in mind. The result is that today, in places like Cornwall where we have seen lots of renewable energy installed, the network struggles to cope. By helping to match energy generation and consumption, the Local Energy Market can relieve some of these problems and make better use of our renewable energy.

What does this mean for households that take part in the trial?

As part of the Local Energy Market, we will be installing new technologies such as batteries, solar photovoltaics (PV) and other smart energy devices in 100 homes across Cornwall. By taking part in this pioneering trial, you will be helping relieve the stress on the electricity network with your home acting as a “mini power station”. Your home may have equipment installed to generate and store electricity, which could then be released onto the network when demand for electricity is at its highest (such as early evening when everyone turns on their lights).  Your home could also store energy in a battery when the grid doesn’t need it (such as midday when it is very sunny).  All of this will be controlled by our virtual marketplace – you won’t have to lift a finger.  You will of course be able to continue to use electricity just as you do today.

Who are our partners?

Our partners are Western Power Distribution, University of Exeter and National Grid.

As the operator of Cornwall’s electricity network, Western Power Distribution is developing the software that will allow them to identify which parts of the network need improvements to allow more renewable technology to be connected and where the ability to generate, store or reduce the energy use could help to relieve these constraints.

The University of Exeter has a full-time Research Fellow working on the project who will be working with participants, including householders, to understand the impacts of the Local Energy Market on users and the wider network.

National Grid are helping us to ensure coordination between existing energy balancing arrangements and the new Local Energy Market.

Will I save money?

It is highly possible that you may save money on your bills if your usage stays at a similar level over the duration of the trial, as you can use some of the electricity generated and stored by your new kit. We will install monitoring equipment into your home at the beginning of the project so that we can see how much electricity you use before the technologies are installed, which will help us ensure that you are not out of pocket by participating in the project.

Will I have to pay anything to participate?

No, this is a research project funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Centrica. The technology and installation will be provided to you free of charge.  You will have to continue to pay your energy bills to your electricity supplier as you do today. 

Will registering an interest ensure I am part of the project?

No. Once you have registered your interest in the Local Energy Market, you will be asked to complete a more in-depth household questionnaire.  All submitted questionnaires will be reviewed and we will be in touch to let you know if your property is suitable for the project by 20th October 2017. The next step is a technical survey to establish which technologies are most suitable for your property. If you decide you would like to go ahead with the full trial, you will be asked at this stage to agree to our Terms and Conditions and then we can start organising your installation.

What equipment will I have installed my home?

Subject to a technical survey, you may have a mix of the below technologies installed:

  • A home battery
  • Monitoring equipment
  • Solar photovoltaics (PV) panels on your roof
  • Smart energy devices such as smart energy heaters and plugs
  • Smart energy devices such as smart plugs
Who will install my equipment?

We will be working with a preferred selection of approved companies who will carry out the installation work on our behalf.

What am I obliged to do once equipment has been installed?

You don’t need to do anything differently. As a participant in the Local Energy Market, we want you to interact with your home as normal - use your electricity in the same way that you usually do. We want to see how the installed equipment will work with the Local Energy Market - it will be as automated as possible.

Will I have to move out during installation?

No. All the technologies that we’re proposing to install can be fitted while you are at home.

Once the technology is installed, how often will Centrica visit my home?

Some routine maintenance will be required during the project. We will do our best to manage all maintenance remotely but in some instances, we may need to visit your home. We will always get in touch to let you know that a visit is required and give you plenty of notice of your appointment.

Is anything else expected of me if I take part in the Local Energy Market?

As a participant in the Local Energy Market, we want you to interact with your home as normal. The learnings from this project are key so your experiences and views are important to us.  We will contact you at different points in the trial to ask for feedback.

What will happen if something goes wrong with the equipment during the project?

If a problem occurs, you can call the Local Energy Market team in Cornwall on 01872 472000 and we will work with our partners to remedy the situation. You will not be required to pay for any technical faults, should they occur during the project, however, you may be asked to contribute to the cost of repair if you damage the equipment while it is in your home. More information will be in the Terms and Conditions that you will need to sign before any technology is installed in your home. 

How will I be able to find out how much electricity I am generating, storing and using?

You will have access to the Local Energy Market’s virtual marketplace, which can be accessed online.  It will be password protected and on there you will be able to see a dashboard of the activity associated to your home.  We will show you how to access and use the dashboard.

Will I still have to buy electricity?

Yes.  We anticipate that the technologies installed in your home will help to reduce the amount of electricity that you use. However, they are unlikely to meet all of your needs and you will still need to buy some electricity in the way that you today.

Will I still be able to keep my existing electricity supplier?

Yes, you do not need to change supplier to participate in the trial and you will continue to pay your bills to your existing supplier in the normal way. You can even change your supplier during the project.

How long will the project last?

The project lasts until March 2020. Everyone who has signed up to the Local Energy Market would be expected to participate for the length of the project.

What happens if I move house?

Once you have signed up to the Local Energy Market, it is expected that you would participate for the length of the project. However, we know things change so if you do decide to move house during the programme you will be able to withdraw from the trial. You will be required to inform the Local Energy Market team at the earliest opportunity so that the equipment can be removed. Please note that we may need to ask you to contribute towards the cost of this. More information will be in the Terms and Conditions that you will be requested to sign before any technology is installed in your home. 

What happens at the end of the project?

You will be entitled to keep all of the installed equipment and the ownership (including warranties) will be transferred into your name (free of charge). You will also have the opportunity to continue to be part of the local energy market if the pilot is successful and continues.

How will my personal data be used?

The Cornwall Local Energy Market is committed to keeping any personal information you give us safe.

The following policy explains how your personal information will be treated. This policy may change from time to time. When we refer to "personal information" in this policy, we mean information, which identifies you as an individual, or is capable of doing so.

Our data protection policy

The types of personal information collected might include your name, email address, contact telephone numbers, private address and other useful information about your property, such as how you heat your home and if you have solar PV installed.

We will use the information we collect about you to send you communications pertinent to the project, either electronically or otherwise.

When equipment is installed in your home, we will collect data for example about when your equipment is working, when it is generating energy, how much and when. Any data from installed equipment will not include personal information and participants will not be recognisable from the data. It will be encrypted according to strict protocols.

Your personal data will be anonymised, will only be used for this project and may be provided to our partners, such as the University of Exeter, for the purposes of evaluation. Your personal information will not be shared with any other project partner, sub-contractor or third party without your permission.

All companies involved with handling anonymised data are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Will there be any publicity?

An essential element of this project is to publicise what we are doing to share the learnings and developments. From time to time we may ask for your participation in interviews, photographs and videos. We will not disclose any of your personal information or images of you without your permission.