Coop Energy: Reviews, History and More
Coop Energy claims to be a different type of electricity and gas supplier. Unlike other UK energy companies, Coop (also known as Cooperative Energy) is part of a larger Cooperative, meaning the company is owned by coop members, rather than large foreign corporations like most Big Six companies. But is Coop Energy really revolutionary or just one more big energy supplier? We’re delving into the supplier’s history, services offered, fuel mix, prices and more to find out.
About Cooperative Energy
Cooperative energy is now powered by Octopus Energy. Co-op Energy has since become a 'white label' supplier under Octopus Energy. This means energy, billing and customer service are being operated by Octopus Energy, but are still supplied under the Co-op Energy brand.
Coop has been active in the UK energy industry for several years now, but hasn’t enjoyed the same recent growth as some independent energy suppliers like Bulb Energy. We’re examining the energy supplier’s history and current events to see if we can find out why.
As part of Midcounties Collective, the history of Coop Energy is tied to the history of the cooperative movement in the UK which goes back nearly 200 years!
In 1844, as the UK and the world was dealing with the changes brought about by the industrial revolution, the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers formed, hoping to bring together skilled laborers in order to better compete with resource-owning elites. By the turn of the century various successful cooperatives were in function across Britain.
One hundred years later, various local cooperatives operating in the West Midlands and the south of England decided it was in their interest to come together. In 2000 they merged into the Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-op and the West Midlands Co-op. Five years later the two cooperatives merged again into the Midcounties Cooperative.
In 2010 the Midcounties Cooperative formed Coop Energy, a national energy supplier operating throughout Britain. The company became known as a green energy supplier and for sharing its profits with members of the Midcounties Cooperative. In 2016 Coop absorbed GB Energy after it ceased trading.
Although fairly new as an energy company, the roots of Coop Energy go back more than 170 years! The following are some of the more significant dates in the history of the company.
- 1844: First English Co-op shop opens.
- Early 1900s: Coop movement spreads across the UK.
- 2000: Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-op and West Midlands Co-op form.
- 2005: The two co-ops merge into the Midcounties Cooperative.
- 2010: Midcounties begins supplying energy nationwide through Co-op Energy.
- 2016: Coop absorbs GB Energy after the supplier stops trading.
- 2019: Coop is bought over by Octopus energy but continues to trade under their own name.
Coop Energy today
More recently, Coop Energy has been fairly stagnant. In recent years the Midcounties Coop has reported losses in its energy sector (aka Coop Energy) which brought down the collective’s overall profits a whopping 25% year-over-year in January 2019.
The Midcounties CEO, Phil Ponsonby, has stated that the loss was due to increased wholesale costs, greater numbers of customers choosing to switch to cheaper suppliers and increased competition due to the national energy price cap. Based on what we’ve heard from our callers here at Selectra, it does seem like Coop is dealing with high numbers of customers switching.
Looking at a chart of market share in the UK energy market provided by Ofgem, you can see Coop’s percentage of households increase from 1% to 2% when they absorbed GB Energy’s business. Unfortunately for Coop, only one quarter later they’d lost enough customers to other suppliers to fall back to 1%, where the firm has remained ever since.
Coop financial info
As we stated above, Coop is part of the Midcounties Cooperative, a consumer coop. Because of this, they do not trade on the public exchange and are not required to release share price information.
Still, based on reports from Coop news we can make some conclusions about the financials of Coop Energy. The energy supplier’s parent coop, Midcounties Cooperative reported a profit loss of 2.8 million pounds year-over-year in January 2019. The collective stated that if Coop Energy was discounted from the larger collective they actually would have gained a profit of 8.3 million!
Doing the math, we see that Coop Energy suffered a loss of more than 10 million pounds in one year! Thus, it’s safe to say that the state of the energy provider’s finances are far from healthy.
What is a coop anyway?
A consumer cooperative, or coop, is a business organization that is collectively owned by its individual owners. Members of a coop receive a share of its profits, historically in the form of dividend payments derived from profits.
Members of Midcounties that receive their energy from Coop Energy receive a point for every £2 spent on their energy bill as well as extra points for submitting meter readings and for other purchases made through different branches of the cooperative.
Once a year, the value of points are decided by Coop Energy leadership and individual customer point totals are tallied. Customers then receive a voucher that they can use for their energy bills at other Midcounties trading groups.
Want to become a member?
If you’re interested in becoming a member of Micounties Cooperative, you’re in luck, it’s an easy and cheap process! Just let them know you’d like to join, fill in some basic information and pay the £1 fee. You’ll receive your membership card in the post so you can start earning points on your purchases. There’s no time frame on your contract so you can opt out any time.
Keep in mind that being a member of Midcounties Cooperative and a Coop Energy customer are two separate things, meaning you can be a member and not contract energy with Coop or receive your gas and electricity from the company without being a member of the cooperative. If you do choose to do both, however, you’ll receive points for all your spending on energy bills.
Cooperative renewable energy/fuel mix
In the UK, all energy suppliers are obligated to provide their fuel mix, so that consumers who wish to support renewable energy can choose their provider accordingly. If that’s you, you’ll be thrilled to know that Coop’s electricity is 100% renewably sourced!
Not only that, but Coop Energy actually breaks down it’s renewables mix, letting us see what type of renewable energy they use to produce their electricity. About 57% of their energy comes from wind and solar alone, which should make green advocates feel good about their electricity tariff.
A large portion also comes from biodegradable materials, biogas, biomass and landfill gas. These are renewable sources of energy but do contribute somewhat to greenhouse gas emissions, although admittedly less than that which is produced by burning fossil fuels.
On a less positive note, Coop Energy’s website has a noticeable lack of information on its gas fuel mix. Across the energy industry, most suppliers have not managed to produce 100% renewable gas, but suppliers many have a least some of their gas production sourced from renewables. Others, like Tonik Energy, have a carbon offset program to make their gas production greener. Coop Energy doesn’t mention any of the above.
Apart from an impressive fuel mix, Coop also has its User Chooser feature. It’s a platform that allows Coop Energy customers to vote on both the type of renewable energy that will be used to source Coop’s electricity as well as which partner plant will generate the power.
Selectra fuel mix score
Because of Coop’s impressive fuel mix, 100% renewable electricity and innovative User Chooser initiative, they easily earn 5/5 stars in our fuel mix category.
Coop Energy: fuel mix - ★★★★★
Coop Energy services and offerings
Coop has several added benefits on offer for its clients, we’re going to break down some of the most exciting perks the energy company has in its arsenal.
Coop Energy does provide smart meter installations for its customers. There’s no cost to you, so if you’re considering a smart meter, there’s really no reason not to get one.
We at Selectra do recommend that households get smart meters if at all possible. Being able to monitor your energy use allows you to form energy saving habits, and constant monitoring of your energy in nearly real time means fewer meter readings and fewer high estimated bills.
Warm Home Discount
If you’re a Coop Energy customer, you may be able to take advantage of the Warm Home Discount.
If you’re not aware, the Warm Home Discount is a discount scheme designed to help households at risk of fuel poverty during the fuel-intensive colder winter months. It takes the form of a one-off credit on your energy bills from October to March.
There are two groups of households eligible for the discount. The first are those who received the Guaranteed Pension Credit. If their supplier takes part in the programme they will their account will automatically be credited with the discount. The second are other households who receive means-tested benefits. These households must apply directly with their energy supplier, and may not receive the discount every year.
If you’re counting on the Warm Home Discount this year, you should reconsider! Smaller independent suppliers often have prices that are so much cheaper, you’ll save money even without having to worry about jumping through a bunch of hoops only to be rejected.
Coop has a special mobile app available for its prepayment customers. The app is designed to eliminate the need to run off to the shop to top-up your meter and make pay-as-you-go customers’ lives easier.
The app remembers users’ data, meaning you won’t have to constantly re-type the same information into your mobile. And being able to pay remotely means you’ll never get caught in the rain or in a never-ending queue just to keep the lights on. If you need a receipt you can request one to be emailed to you directly through the app.
Coop Energy prices and tariff options
Coop offers a wide variety of tariffs to its customers. Some are variable while others are fixed-price tariffs, some are prepayment and some are exclusive tariffs only available to customers that meet certain criteria.
One of the most unusual ones is the Fair Price Tracker tariff. It’s fixed to 5% less than the national price cap. As the cap can change, it exists in a nether-world between being fixed-price and variable. This type of tariff is fairly new in the UK but has been around in other parts of Europe for several years.
Cooperative prices compared to the market
How do Coop’s prices compare to the market? Unfortunately, this is one area in which the energy supplier falls flat.
We calculated what the average 3 bedroom flat in London would pay using the Green Pioneer tariff, and compared it to the national energy price cap.
|Utility||Unit rate per kWh||Standing charge per kWh|
|Average annual spend: £1,340.53|
*all prices include VAT at 5%
Upsettingly enough, our hypothetical average family in London would actually spend £80 more than the price cap with Coop Energy! That’s possible because green tariffs, including Green Pioneer, are not obligated to set prices according to the limit. The high price is still confounding, as the wholesale costs of renewable energy are now comparable to those of fossil fuels.
Because of their high prices - at times even exceeding Ofgem’s price cap - we have to give Coop Energy our lowest score possible in our price category, 1/5.
Coop Energy: prices - ★
Still, this is only a snapshot into Coop’s collection of tariffs. To get more info, be sure to check out our full Coop Energy price page.
Contact Coop Energy
If you need to get in touch with Coop Energy, they have a variety of emails, contact pages and phone numbers to sort through. Luckily, we’ve already sorted them for you; all of Coop’s contacts methods are spelled out on our Coop contact page.
Before you make the switch
Want to contact Cooperative Energy because you’re planning on switching to the energy supplier? Before you do, we recommend that you speak to one of our energy experts. They can help you sort through all the suppliers and tariff options available to your home.
Cooperative Energy Login
Can’t seem to find Cooperative Energy’s login page? Don’t worry, our Cooperative login page spells out every detail of the login process, as well as how to effectively manage your Coop account once you’re online.
Coop Energy does not offer energy tariffs to businesses. GB Energy Supply had previously offered business tariffs, but after being absorbed by Cooperative Energy in 2016 GB stopped accepting new business customers.
If you’re specifically looking for business energy solutions, we recommend looking into Haven Energy, or just calling one of our energy experts.
Coop Energy reviews and our verdict
We’ve discussed Coop’s history, services, fuel mix, tariffs and prices. Now we’re getting to the crux of it, is Coop worth your time and money, or are you better off walking away?
Cooperative Energy reviews
Before we get to Selectra’s final word on Coop Energy, let’s explore what some of our callers and other Coop customers are saying about the energy company.
Customer comments on Cooperative Energy vary widely. Some customers seem quite content with their service while others are hopping mad and eager to switch.
Customer service is the area where Coop customers’ reports are most at odds. Looking at Trustpilot for example, 37% of the reviews rank the supplier as ‘excellent’ but a full 29% rank the company as ‘bad’, the worst ranking on the site.
Nearly all of the positive reviews mention friendly, simple and easy to understand communication from the company.
Easy to deal with. Helpful and friendly. - Joyce with Coop Energy
However, examining the negative reviews we can see a different story. They also mention Coop’s customer service, but obviously in a much less positive light.
Poor communication and poor knowledge of the details of their products… Stick with who you’ve got! - Tomos with Coop Energy
It’s worth noting that many of Coop’s happy customers are often ones that have switched recently. Some of that may be due to mankind’s fickle nature, since we only desire what we don’t have, but it’s also an indicator that there may be a dropoff in quality in Coop’s service after customers have made the switch.
Bills and account management
Managing customer’s accounts and billing is one of the areas where Coop doesn’t fare particularly well. Callers have reported to our energy experts that at times they’ve received unexplained high bills, and are greeted with days of silence when trying to receive clarification.
[They] Took months to contact me then sent me a massive bill as their first message, having put me on some ridiculous rate but not giving me any form of contact. - Tom with Coop Energy
Receiving unexplained high bills and being unable to resolve them are common themes in reports from Coop customers. For a service as crucial and as costly as supplying energy, that’s obviously a huge problem.
Coop does better when it comes to handling customers' complaints. Looking at data released by Ofgem, as of Q1 of 2019, Coop is able to resolve 55% of complaints received in just one day and 91% within eight weeks. If that doesn’t seem impressive, keep in mind that the lowest scoring mid-tier energy supplier only managed to solve 74% of complaints within the same eight weeks.
Ofgem’s data is backed up by a high complaint handling score on Which?’s customer survey, as well as feedback from our own callers.
Selectra score: reviews
In general, feedback from Coop’s customers is a mixed bag. Looking at what our own callers have to say, as well as taking into account review rankings from Trustpilot and Which?, we can see that a slight majority of Coop customers are happy with their service. However, at the same time a large minority of customers are fed up with the energy provider.
Due to the mixed nature of customer sentiment, we’re giving Coop Energy a score of 3/5 stars for our reviews category.
Coop Energy: reviews - ★★★
Pros: 100% renewable electricity; some high reviews, particularly regarding complaints handling; coop structure and profit point rewards
Cons: Very high prices; customer service complaints
Coop Energy does have some strong perks. It’s the only large energy provider that is part of a consumer cooperative. If you’re a member of the Midcounties Cooperative, Coop Energy provides discounts on your energy bills or other Midcounties businesses and allows you to have a greater say in how the business is run. Coop also sports 100% renewably sourced electricity, and even allow customers to have a say in the company’s specific fuel mix with Coop’s User Chooser feature.
That being said, Cooperative Energy certainly has some characteristics that are less than thrilling. Most importantly, the supplier’s prices, some of which even exceed the national price cap, are alarmingly high. That, combined with a mixed bag of customer reviews, drags down our evaluation of Coop Energy.
Coop Energy Selectra score - ★★
Even with a great fuel mix and some innovative features, with high prices and mediocre reviews, we’re forced to give Coop Energy a middling 2/5 stars.