Think big…then think a lot bigger

Two years ago I walked into several offices of influential people and announced: “I am going to redesign the home heating OIL business”.  I believed it, I just wasn’t quite sure how I was going to do it.  Here we are on the cusp of not just that, but actually bringing thousands of rural communities into the smart energy era and there was only one way it was possible:

                  Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration!

Back then most of those influencers thought I was jolly good value, smiled and then did nothing. Only one embraced both the concept and the challenge of working with me.  As a result of Linda Watson’s vision, and our collaboration, the RCC network is playing a critical role in this transition.

We needed to get SMART in so many ways about rural energy because it has been left behind. In particular heating OIL.  You see there is only one thing more dumb than the systems in place for heating OIL users to order their OIL and that is the system in place for the heating OIL suppliers to actually deliver it.  We might as well be in the 1960s because that is where this is stuck – almost nothing has changed and anything that has is purely to the benefit of the supplier and not the consumer! It is about behavioural change. When we transform behaviour – of both buyer and supplier – we will have a delivery system that is making its first nervous steps into the 21st century.

What are the challenges to making this change?  In the last few weeks two members of the group, that live in my own village, have run dry and several have had to turn their heating off until a delivery can be arranged!  I have a question:  IF OIL buyers that live at the very seat of all this can’t get themselves organised to buy when they know we buy every month, or more often, then how can I expect any one else to do so?  The answer is I should be able to, but I can’t.  People run out of petrol in their cars with a gauge almost staring them in the eye, an OIL tank – even if it has a gauge – is at the bottom of the garden!  So the real challenge is dumb systems.

The solution is incredibly simple, it looks like this! A very smart system.

The Pomfret Probe


This really smart monitor sits on tanks and communicates directly to Community Buying unLimited and tells us exactly what number of days of OIL is left in each tank.  Think about this: IF oil buyers know exactly what number of days OIL they have left it will completely transform the way they order their OIL.  BUT if WE know that information too then we have the key to completely transforming the business of delivering heating OIL.  It will help it to catch up with other smart energy systems.  Both the member and we can access that information from a bespoke, secure webpage dedicated to each tank that shows useage, meaning we will never let anyone run dry again, always buy at the right time and even encourage energy saving via a really clever thermostat app! For true peace of mind it also has an alarm system (email, text, etc.) that warns of dramatic level drops through theft or leak.

Thinking BIG: we have the exclusive rights to put these monitors on members’ tanks across the UK and we need to put them on thousands of OIL tanks NOW!  With them in place we attack the issue of Fuel Poverty, we eliminate millions of tons of carbon emissions from delivery, we generate even greater savings for members and we help to create safer more sustainable rural communities.  Basically we redesign an archaic industry and we drag rural energy systems into the smart era.

How can you help?  Of course we want to hear from individuals and groups whi wish to participate, but we need to think big and then bigger: between now and the end of March we all know that there are many funds – in foundations, charities, councils, corporations, etc. – and budgets that need to be allocated to alleviate social issues like Fuel Poverty, to increase environmental consciousness about things like carbon emission reduction and to educate the masses about reducing energy waste and smart metering.  In what ever way you can help…please create a link from them to us so that we can collaborate and create true change where true change is screaming out to be made. Initially we only need a million pounds!  Why not…it is all a part of community group buying and that is an idea whose time has come.