BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 22 Feb '19

‘Leicester’s energy supplier’ is spearheading change in UK cities

This article first appeared in our winter ’19 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Love Revolution, distributed with the Guardian on 22 February 2018. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Octopus Energy is a new breed of energy supplier – an energy tech company that, thanks to its incredibly agile offering, has brought a new and refreshing perspective to a tired industry. Its new digital customer service platforms mean that, despite its name, Octopus has an undeniably human presence.

The beauty of what Octopus does stems directly from its agility; Octopus Energy Business Solutions can build tariffs to tie in with a particular UK location or business type, making it possible for all sizes of business to take the leap to 100% renewable electricity. For Octopus, it’s all about building a story that inspires the next generation, and making the planet part of that story.

The story of growth

Octopus Energy supplies energy across the whole of the UK, and its expansion plans have always extended beyond London. Its first few years saw impressive growth: by May 2017 Octopus Energy’s Soho office was bursting at the seams; with around 100,000 customers being served by 30 energy specialists, it was time to open a second site.

Leicester – for its big population of new graduates, influx of successful startups and easy commute from St Pancras – was selected as a great place to base a second office.

Tentacles IN Leicester

Through a collaboration with local business, Octopus Energy has added impetus to Leicester’s relaunch – bringing new business and innovation, creating a hyper-local sustainability initiative and boosting the local economy by establishing a 250-person office in the city centre.

Today, Leicester is Octopus Energy’s second home, and the operational hub of its business. The relationship cultivated with local enterprise was so special that Octopus decided to develop a bespoke green energy tariff for SMEs in Leicestershire. Dubbed ‘Leicester Business Power’, the tariff brings 100% renewable electricity to local businesses. It’s generated from Seaton Road – a solar farm just a few miles from the city centre.

Octopus Energy has helped offset emissions with local tree planting; 2,000 trees were planted in communities around the UK in 2018. In Leicester in the past year alone, Octopus Energy has helped to offset 3.418 million kg of carbon across domestic and business activities.

KING RICHARD III

It seems fitting that the first client to sign over its annual electricity bill to Octopus Energy Business Solutions Leicester Business Power tariff is the award-winning King Richard III Visitor Centre.

The incredible 2012 discovery of Richard III’s grave under a Leicester Council car park (of all places) and subsequent international release of the documentary Richard III: The King in the Car Park – has seen tourists flock to the city.

Today, the legacy of this fascinating royal story is powered by 100% renewable electricity, from the centre’s 3D video shows to its educational workshops – simultaneously celebrating Leicester’s history and helping to set the vision for a greener future.

As a business, the centre is always looking for new ways to reduce its impact on the environment; with the energy now coming from renewable sources, this new partnership helps move closer to that goal. As an added bonus, the Leicester Business Power tariff has also reduced the King Richard III Visitor Centre’s costs by £1,000 per year.

Powered by local sunshine

Leicester Business Power champions affordable sustainability, maximising local solar generation and delivering its customer-first commitment to offer a second-to-none utilities experience at rates comparable with the leading ‘brown’ energy tariffs on the market – all with energy that’s kind to the planet.

What’s so special about Leicester Business Power is that it makes the effects of energy-conscious business decisions tangible. Businesses that go green with Octopus Energy receive tailored information about the amount of carbon that has been offset as a direct result of their switch.

Octopus Energy’s sustainability efforts in Leicester go beyond powering local businesses. As a key member of Leicester BID (Business Improvement District), it has a direct hand in local sustainability projects to reinforce the local impetus to go green and act sustainably.

Deeper community ties are also being forged through tree planting. In 2017, Octopus Energy pledged to plant 1,000 trees in schools around the UK, supporting the United Nations Environment Programme’s BreatheLife campaign. The initiative was kicked off at Leicester’s Spinney Hill Primary School, where the heavily concreted city-centre grounds were greened with a number of native broadleaf trees.

Click here to find out why Octopus Energy Super Green Octopus Tariff is a MyGreenPod.com Hero

Octopus Energy’s tree planting has picked up substantial momentum since then, and has
engaged the collaborative efforts of everyone from Arsenal Football Club to MPs, garnering national press coverage along the way. For every 25 businesses that sign up to Leicester Business Power, 25 local trees will be planted, helping to combat the UK’s toxic levels of air pollution and raising national awareness of this important issue.

Relaunching Leicester

Leicester is in the middle of a complete relaunch; the council is undertaking a massive regeneration project, welcoming innovation by enabling new business to flourish and improving lives through jobs and prosperity.

The city is teeming with new graduates from the University of Leicester and De Montfort University. Octopus Energy didn’t want this wealth of talent to go to waste; its office will have 100 full-time employees by the year’s end, the vast majority local East Midlands graduates. It’s helping to keep Leicester’s brightest in Leicester – and, in turn, driving the local business economy.

Octopus Energy’s new M&S Energy contract will be entirely run by the Leicester team, bringing an extra 80 jobs to the second office on top of the 200-250 ultimately expected.

Leicester Business Power is also making the effects of energy-conscious business decisions tangible in economic and social terms. Business leaders can see, materially, how their switch is bolstering Leicestershire’s economy – supporting a local supplier to provide locally generated energy, which will make the office grow even further. Finally, their switch unlocks £125 for local charitable works through a relationship with Leicester Charity Link.

Charity Link is an innovative organisation that provides essential items to improve quality of life, including food, clothing, beds, cookers and mobility equipment, as well as grants for utilities and other essentials. For every £10 donated, it can unlock £50 from charitable trusts around the UK – and every penny helps to provide crucial aid for local people and children in need.

Octopus Energy says it has been ‘blown away’ by the response to Leicester Business Power. It received an incredible reception from local press like the Leicester Mercury, and central Leicester is signing up to go green. It’ll be exciting to watch Leicester Business Power grow even further – collaborating with local press and initiating regional marketing campaigns to spread the word.

The Octopus Business Power takeover

Leicester Business Power is a trial for this sort of hyper-local sustainability initiative. The potential for a local green tariff anywhere in the UK is imminently possible, and Octopus Energy plans to replicate its approach across the UK.

Right now, its focus is on business customers – a demographic regularly left behind by the energy market – but it’s also looking at developing a parallel tariff for domestic customers. The company likes to think of itself as ‘Leicester’s energy supplier’.

Local businesses have a huge leadership role to play across the UK, starting in Leicester. Octopus Energy hopes that, by embracing the Leicester Business Power tariff, businesses will inspire their customers to think about how they can become more sustainable, too – while spearheading change in other UK cities. One day, we’ll see a UK that eats, breathes, works and plays on the power of local sunshine.

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