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Three-point plan to help 400,000 households with high energy costs

Plaid Cymru unveils three-point plan for off-grid homes

Plaid Cymru the Party of Wales has unveiled a three-point plan to help the estimated 400,000 households in Wales who are off the gas network and face higher costs and little consumer protection.

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, Llyr Gruffydd, has launched a website for households to register their desire to get on mains gas, as part of a viable, business case to the gas suppliers.

Mr Gruffydd has also called on the Secretary of State for Energy to extend the energy watchdog OFGEM’s remit to include people off the mains gas grid. Currently, off-grid customers do not enjoy the same protections given to on-grid customers, and prices for gas for off-grid customers are not regulated as strictly, resulting in neighbours paying different prices for gas from the very same suppliers.

The third element of Mr Gruffydd’s proposals is a collective bargaining scheme for existing off-grid customers to negotiate and purchase off-grid gas en masse, in order to secure the best deal for all. Similar schemes have already proved fruitful for on grid customers.

Speaking today, Assembly Member, Llyr Gruffydd said:

"As the winter chill means people are having to turn up the heating in their homes. For many hundreds of thousands of Welsh consumers that means paying over the odds for their heating at a time when wages and benefits are being cut or frozen. Many energy suppliers aren’t regulated and face ever-increasing fuel bills because there is little choice, especially outside towns and cities. Rural areas are being hit disproportionately by this extra cost. Many households could save hundreds of pounds a year if they were connected to the mains gas.

"We want to speed up the Welsh Government’s pitifully slow commitment to provide mains gas for households – at this rate it would take about 100 years to get all those within a 1km of the grid linked up. People can’t afford their heating bills now – we need to act more quickly. I’m asking people who want mains gas to come forward and sign up to our campaign at www.offgridcymru.org so that we can press for action on their behalf.

"For those unable to get on mains gas, for whatever reason, we want to encourage community buying clubs to get people significant discounts on oil and other fuels. A proper Welsh energy regulator would also make sure nobody was being ripped off again."

The new off-grid survey is at www.offgridcymru.org.