In my post on Southern Electric's questionable sales tactics, I mentioned that I switched to Good Energy at the end of last year. In this post I'll explain why I choose Good Energy over their main rival, Ecotricity.
Customer service ratings
Good Energy and Ecotricity topped the Which? 2013 customer satisfaction survey, with Good Energy on 85% and Ecotricity on 80%. Southern Electric scored highest amongst the Big Six, but only managed 51%, while Npower was worst of all with 39%.
A company website serves two main purposes: to entice new customers, and to support existing customers. (Unfortunately many companies omit the latter.) Good Energy's website has a simple, professional but warm design using low saturation yellow and brown. The pages are accessible through a drop-down menu at the top and a grid navigation in the footer. In comparison, Ecotricity's website is less original in its use of green, and generally feels more cluttered and harder to navigate. The menu at the top does not drop-down, so there is an extra click to reach deeper pages, and only the home page features the grid navigation in the footer. Both sites provide a large amount of information for potential and current customers.
After a while browsing Ecotricity's website, I came across their fuel mix page. I was surprised to find that their energy is not 100% renewable. Instead they have increased from 20.2% renewable in 2005/2006 to 64.3% renewable in 2011/2012 (with a brief drop in 2009/2010). The remaining 35.7% in 2011/2012 came from a mix of sources: 19.7% natural gas, 12.1% coal, 2.3% nuclear, and 1.6% from other sources. Cumulatively, they produce 195.5g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour, about 55% lower than the UK average.
Good Energy, in comparison, are 100% renewable, with no CO2 emissions.
For me this was the main reason to choose Good Energy, but to be fair to Ecotricity I should explain their differing business models.
Ecotricity call their model 'Bills into Mills': they invest 66% of the money they receive into building new sources of green energy. The graph on their history page nicely illustrates their progress.
While Good Energy operate a wind farm at Delabole in Cornwall, it purchases most of its electricity from small scale independent producers through the Feed-in Tariff (FiT). This policy has been criticised for not promoting the growth of renewable energy production, but this criticism ignores the importance of support for FiT suppliers. In a survey by YouGen, 72% of E.ON's FiT customers rated their service 'poor' or 'diabolical', with 86% citing slow payments. In contrast, 76% of Good Energy's FiT customers rated their service 'excellent'.
While I choose Good Energy, I wouldn't criticise anyone who preferred Ecotricity. The two companies take different approaches to renewable energy, but both approaches promote the growth of renewable energy and the decarbonisation of the UK's electricity market.