25 February 2000

Slashing power bills

A SCHEME offering savings of up to 22% on business electricity bills has been launched by the Country Landowners Association in Wales.

Discounts of 7-12% are also available on domestic charges, depending on the area, and an allied scheme offers reductions of 10 to 40% on phone accounts.

The new ventures are the latest phase in the development of Anglesey-based Egni (Wales) Ltd, which was set up 18 months ago by CLA member Edward Jones as an alternative enterprise to counter reduced income from beef and arable farming.

Before the CLA launch the company had a turnover of £30m and bought electricity for nine groups with a total of 8500 members. Membership of those groups ranges from 33 to 4000 and includes individual farm businesses, abattoirs, sawmills, village shops and rural doctors surgeries.

"About three years ago I became dissatisfied with the heavy cost of my electricity bills," Mr Jones recalls. "It occurred to me that there were many farmers like myself and other rural enterprises which might be able to secure substantial discounts if they banded together and negotiated bulk buying deals with various competing power suppliers.

"We started by using the established local machinery rings and farm supply co-ops to advertise the idea. The discounts we achieved soon generated demands for us to establish other buying groups." &#42