Energy supplier Utilita is set to open the Edinburgh Energy Hub as part of its drive to regenerate our high streets.
The hub in Leith will be the first of its kind in Scotland, offering face-to-face customer service – almost unheard of in today’s energy sector – as well as providing energy advice and support for vulnerable households.
Utilita’s innovative approach comes as high streets continue to struggle, with a number of high-profile casualties in recent months and years.
The company plans to open up to 10 hubs across the UK as it vows to be “the only energy supplier who will look you in the eye”.
Since Utilita was set up in 2003 to challenge the main energy suppliers, it has attracted nearly 800,000 domestic customers, a tenth of which are in Scotland.
The company was the first to offer prepayment meters, which now account for over 90 per cent of customers.
It also offers access emergency and friendly credit of up to £15 for customers struggling financially to top up their meter and each hub has a private room where customers can speak to a Utilita advisor in confidence.
“Many companies are abandoning the high street – but not us. We believe in it and we see great opportunities to help revive it, while engaging with our communities,” said Utilita founder Bill Bullen.
“We’ve also developed our POWER UP functionality on the My Utilita app, allowing some of our customers access to short-term interest-free, energy account vends at the touch of a button.
“We hear of millions paying too much for their energy. Politicians remind us all the time. But we believe we have saved our customers at least £500m since 2010.
“We’ve listened to feedback from our customers who have told us they want to be able to interact with us directly rather than rely solely on the phone, email or social media; our energy hubs provide this option.”
He added: “While a number of firms, including famous household brands, are closing shops, we believe there is still huge potential on Britain’s high streets.
“We want to support them, and we want to support local communities.”
The Edinburgh hub is Utilita’s third in the UK and first in Scotland, and follows the success of its first energy hub, which launched in Gosport in 2018, followed by another in Southampton earlier this year.
It also comes after Utilita was appointed by the energy regulator Ofgem to take on Edinburgh-based Our Power’s 38,000 domestic customers after the firm stopped trading in 2019.
Steve Parker, Director of Retail at Utilita, said: “We’ve always embraced innovation at Utilita – we were the first company to install a smart meter in the UK – and we believe going against the grain by building a presence on Britain’s high streets and in communities will have a long-term benefit for both us and our customers.
“There are a large number of consumers who value face-to-face help and a personal touch, rather than relying on phone calls or the internet when receiving support. This is especially important for our customer base, given that we work with some of Britain’s most vulnerable households who often require additional levels of support.”
• Utilita’s Edinburgh Energy Hub opens on 1 February, 2020 at Unit 40 Newkirkgate Centre, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6HD