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.
Frequently Asked Questions for Residents
What is the Cornwall Local Energy Market?
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, Imperial College London 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.
Imperial College’s expertise in power market design and modelling will add real value to the LEM’s market design work and learning.
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 when your battery is installed so we can see how you use electricity in your home.
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.
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 be able to access your data via a web-based application.
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.
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.
I have a survey booked in for next week, how long will it take?The survey should take between 60-90mins. Please make sure there is clear access to: your distribution board and electricity meter, your broadband router, the outside of your property and your loft if you don’t have solar PV installed. If you have solar PV - your solar PV inverter.
I have just had my pre-installation survey conducted, now what happens?
Following on from your survey, you will receive an update from us within 7-10 days.
The update will either confirm that your property is suitable and will include a proposal from us about what we would like to install in your home, or it will inform you that your property is not suitable and the reason(s) why.
How long have I got to decide if I want to be a part of the LEM?
If you would like to accept our offer, please complete our offer acceptance letter (this will be sent to you after your survey if your property is suitable) and return it to us within 14 days from the date on your offer letter.
Can I have a say in what is installed?
Potentially. All participants will have an independent monitoring system and will have a battery installed. The size of the battery depends on a number of factors including: what can be physically installed in your home, what your own energy demand might be, what project budget is available and any other factors identified at the time of the survey or linked with connecting the battery to the grid.
If you need solar PV, this will also be sized according to your roof size and what can be installed, along with other factors such as budget and connection requirements. We will endeavour to accommodate requests, so please contact us if you would like to discuss your offer in more detail.
If we decide to agree to be a part of the LEM, are we entering into a lease with you?
No, you are not entering into a lease with Centrica. Centrica is licensing the space from you for the installed equipment for the duration of this project. During this time, Centrica will own this equipment but you are free to enjoy the benefits.
Is there anyone else I need to tell that we are participating in the LEM?
You may want to inform your mortgage lender and we would recommend checking the terms of your mortgage. If you need to inform your mortgage lender, please let us know and we can provide you with information regarding the equipment we propose to install at your home.
We would also request that you inform your home insurer. Whilst the equipment installed is owned by Centrica and insured by us, it is still installed in your home and therefore prudent to inform your home insurer. There will be a document with your offer letter that you can provide to your insurer should they want to know more about what has been installed.