Middlestone Moor Club fears for future as energy price rises

  • Published
Image caption,
Middlestone Moor Club said its energy prices had soared

Operators of a working men's club say they fear for its future after their energy bill soared.

Middlestone Moor club near Spennymoor was initially told it was rising from £271 a month to £1,700,

This was later lowered to £500, but the club treasurer said they would struggle to pay this "not sustainable" rise.

Energy supplier SSE said variable rates were automatically applied when the club did not respond to a communication about a new contract.

Treasurer Brian Gallant said the club had "struggled" to get through the coronavirus pandemic as it still had outgoings despite having no money coming in.

He said he could not believe the initial six-fold increase bill when he saw it, adding: "That's such a shock. I can't understand where they get the prices from."

Energy bills soared in April and are expected to rise sharply again in October, when the price cap goes up.

The cap sets a limit on the amount that can be paid for each unit of energy and is based on the price suppliers pay producers for electricity and gas.

It has already been increased because demand for gas rose after Covid restrictions eased then prices soared again following the war in Ukraine.

The club has now arranged to move to a different tariff which will see them charged £18,000 over three years, £3,000 more per year than their previous bill making it double what they were paying.

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Club treasurer Brian Gallant said the new bills had been shocking

Chairman David Taylor said that price rise was "not very sustainable at all".

Mr Gallant said the not-for-profit club was the only one left in the village and he would like to see it stay, even if it meant selling it to someone who would need to run it as a profit-making pub.

"I think we've just about come to the end of the road," he said.

In a statement, SSE said it issued a new contract offer on 28 January and received no response "which led to variable rates being automatically applied to the account for more than 60 days".

The club then contacted SSE to discuss higher bills, the company said, and began a new contract in June which included a rate increase due to the higher cost of wholesale energy prices.

SSE said as a "gesture of goodwill" it had credited the club's account by £2,021.25 "which equates to almost half of the costs incurred while the account was billed on variable rates".

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