At our meeting of Institute members on Sunday 4th June 2023, your Secretary, Shaun Thompson explained how since the end of 2022 the Institute's contracted energy supplier, EDF Energy has been crippling the Institute with exorbitant bills. They have been charging FIVE TIMES what we were paying last year for Gas and DOUBLE what we were paying last year for Electricity.
Every thirty days this year they have been clobbering the Institute with crippling bills with the result that cash reserves are now frighteningly low.
In the rest of the market the price of energy has come down and there are better deals available with other companies. EDF have been advised that they are pushing your Institute to extinction, but frankly they don't care. They don't care about Shildon - or you, the people of Shildon - or that they would be bringing to an end a living legacy that Timothy Hackworth and his Stockton & Darlington Railway colleagues brought to this town 190 years ago. The Fat Cat only cares about shareholder dividends and profits and won't allow us to negotiate a better deal now when we need it unless we pay an exit fee of tens of thousands of pounds.
There is a case that we shoudn't even be being charged those rates. As a non-profit organisation the Institute should qualify for a microbusiness tariff.
EDF's callous attitude to the situation has made us all the more determined to Beat the Fat Cat - and at the very least ensure that your Institute survives the remaining 18-months to the end of this current contract after which we'll be bidding a less than sad and tearful farewell to EDF and forming a new relationship with one of the more ethical suppliers who offer microbusiness tariffs.
We've already cut some energy costs by replacing older lighting with improved and more efficient LED based lighting.
As well as riding out the remainder of the contract we have a plan to make our lovely Grade II listed building more sustainable.
Becoming a Community Benefit Society this year will help us to apply for financial aid for transformative works to make our building more sustainable and safe. Our current heating system is archaic and ill designed. The heating is either on or off for the whole building, and the radiators are hidden behind seats so that only a small proportion of the warmth circulates in each room. In past times you could afford this inefficiency. For the future we need to do something smarter.
The committee's immediate priority will be to focus on upgrading the heating so that not only will it be more efficient, it will also be more flexible so that only the areas being used on a given day are heated, and there is more control over temperature throughout.
This can help us to try to be there for you, your children and grandchildren in future.
BUT - to do this we need to buy a little time and we need your help.
We know that everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment, and that many of you out there are facing your own battles with bills. But we think there are a range of ways in which people can help us to Boost the Budget so that we can Beat the Fat Cat, from modest gestures of support to wider acts of generosity.
Finally - if you purchase your energy from EDF today, why not consider switching to another supplier when you can. Shop around for better deals elsewhere. Wouldn't it be great if Shildon punched the Fat Cat right in the pocket where it hurts. It won't help the Institute of course but it would sure feel good. We can't say for sure, but chances are that every penny paid by British customers to the French energy giant is probably subsidising cheaper bills in France where the French government imposed stricter caps on pricing than ours did..
You can donate to the Institute's Fat Cat Fighting Fund in one of the following ways: