According to the Guardian, renewable energy provider Good Energy has agreed to accept the Bristol pound in payment for electricity and gas bills. The company claims to be the first in the world to accept payments in local currency. Bristol residents already use the Bristol pound to pay for groceries, bus fares and council tax (ie real estate taxes).
The Bristol Pound is an alternative currency launched in 2012 to help keep cash in the local community, as opposed to the deep pockets of multinational corporations.
Run as a not-for-profit partnership with Bristol Credit Union, the Bristol pound is the first city-wide local currency in the UK and the largest alternative to Britain’s national currency (pounds sterling). There are approximately 750,000 Bristol pounds in circulation.
Local or complementary currencies are an ideal way for communities to opt out of the corporate money system. Their use has expanded exponentially since the 2008 downturn, especially in European countries like Greece, Italy and Spain. Devastating austerity cuts have left millions in southern Europe with no access to euros, the official currency.
My town New Plymouth has their own local currency, the New Plymouth talent, though it’s not as widely circulated as the Bristol pound. We also have a Time Bank (which I’ve just joined), which allows members to earn time credits providing services for other members. They can use these credits (instead of money) to purchase services from other members. It’s a great alternative for unemployed, retired and disabled residents who are short on cash due to the economic downturn.