North Cornwall residents can now sign up for lower electricity costs through the radical new ‘Sunshine Tariff’.

In a first for the UK, the initiative links peak daytime production of renewable electricity with smart technology to offer lower daytime prices to domestic consumers.

Community energy group Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) is collaborating with local network operator WPD, innovative electricity supplier Tempus Energy and sustainable energy champions RegenSW to offer residents of the North Cornwall town of Wadebridge the chance to participate in the initiative and take advantage of its Sunshine Tariff. This is the first time that this has been done in the UK, and gives local people more control over their energy and energy costs.

The Sunshine Tariff offers a low rate (5p per unit) during the day from 10am to 4pm between April and September 2016, and a higher rate (18p) at other times. This is like the Economy 7 tariff, except that the cheap rate comes during the day when the sun is powering solar panels, not in the middle of the night. Between now and the end of March 2016, there is a flat rate of 13.4p, Tempus Energy’s standard tariff.

The project is looking for volunteer participants in Wadebridge to switch to the Sunshine Tariff and see how much domestic customers will save by changing their electricity usage patterns to take advantage of the low daytime rate. Differing levels of support are offered to assist people in making savings on their electricity, ranging from tips and advice right up to smart controllers which allow devices to be switched on and off in the home remotely, although the customer will have a manual override.

WREN chair, Professor Stephen Frankel said: “Wadebridge has made a lot of progress in taking advantage of local and locally owned renewable energy, with about 1 in 10 homes having installed solar panels. The Sunshine Tariff is a great opportunity to spread the benefits of solar more widely to local people.”

Sara Bell, CEO and Founder of Tempus Energy said "The UK has huge potential to drive local demand for cheaper renewable power. By creating a true price signal, we want to see how the Sunshine Tariff will influence customers’ energy use. Unleashing competition and customer choice is central to the UK's future energy system; it creates subsidy-free markets for renewables, cuts costs and carbon for all customers and keeps the UK's lights on."

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW said: “This ground breaking project will explore smarter ways for local people to really access the value of their local renewable energy resources. If we can enable local people to match up their energy use with local energy generation, we will address a key barrier to communities being able to generate and use their own power and provide greater control over energy bills.”

Funding for the project comes from the Network Innovation Allowance, administered by Western Power Distribution, which has seen the amount of renewable electricity generated in the Southwest increase hugely in the last few years. By matching demand and generation locally, the network can be utilised more efficiently and potentially allow the connection of more generation. Through the Sunshine Tariff, benefits of this are passed to consumers. While this particular project is restricted to Wadebridge, the benefits and what is learned can be applied throughout the country.

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