Utility Week

Utility Week 27th September 2013

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Customers This week Millions of energy consumers on 'dead tariffs'; call for faster switching process Decc admits millions are on 'dead tariffs' There are 6.2 million electricity and 8.1 million gas customers on "dead tariffs", a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has revealed. The Labour Party, which submitted the request, is expected to cite the figure as evidence PM's tariff pledge: flash in the pan? David Cameron is failing to force energy companies to put consumers on the cheapest tariff. The prime minister made that pledge last October. Responding to the FoI revelation, consumer watchdog Which? said the Retail Market Review (RMR) reforms are not doing enough to benefit consumers. It called for "more radical action" to ensure consumers "feel confident that they are paying a fair price for their energy". However, Decc claimed the "vast majority" of customers on dead tariffs are paying the same price as customers on their replacement live tariffs. As part of its RMR, regulator Ofgem is making energy suppliers shift existing customers away from tariffs that are not available to new customers, if the move will save customers money. Suppliers must complete this by June 2014. A Decc spokesman said the RMR will make the market fairer by moving people off "poor-value dead tariffs and onto the best deal for them". Energy UK chief executive Angela Knight said the main problem is that it is difficult to compare dead and live tariffs because they are structured differently. She added there are "clearly not more expensive dead deals" and the "key here is that consumers do not get left behind on a tariff that is worse than something in the market". eNERGY will be contacted to provide feedback, with half of customers responding to texts, 30 per cent to an email, and 20 per cent to a telephone call. An improved switching process could save UK energy consumers £1.5 billion a year, according to First Utility. Research by the energy supplier also revealed that 35 per cent of households would switch if the process was quicker. In response to the results of its study, First Utility has launched a "Fix the Switch" campaign, calling on MPs, Ofgem and the industry to cut the time to switch suppliers from five weeks to one day. First Utility chief executive Ian McCaig said: "A quick and easy energy switching process would deliver genuine costsaving benefits by encouraging more people to benefit from better energy deals." ELECTRICITY Study finds 35pc of households would switch if it was faster WATER Real-time customer feedback for Scots Scottish Water has invested in a new real-time customer feedback service. The new system, based on Rapide's Rant & Rave platform, replaces the water company's paper survey feedback system. Customers who have interacted with Scottish Water Ecotricity pledges to undercut the big six Ecotricity has announced that it will undercut the standard tariffs offered by the big six energy companies from the start of October. Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said the fact that his company generates around 40 per cent of its electricity supply means it can set its own prices for its consumers. ENERGY No disconnections, says Scottish Power Scottish Power has declared a freeze on disconnections this winter. The energy supplier will not cut off anyone for debt between November 2013 and February 2014, it announced at Tuesday's National Energy Action Conference in Harrogate. It will also give prepayment customers a break from any debt repayments due over a threemonth period. From December to February, all cash put in the meter will go to energy supply. I am the customer Andrew Bainbridge It had to happen. With serious concerns that energy supplies won't be sufficient if we have bitterly cold winters, the politicians are thinking harder about how to reduce demand. Last March the Energy E fficiency Deployment Office came into being and the European Energy Efficiency Directive followed in November. I suspect there are overpaid graduates in Whitehall and Brussels with no energy industry experience whose sole task is to "Energy customers are king and many deserve a crown" think up names for new legislative measures. Luckily for them, they don't lose their jobs if the schemes flop or cause chaos. Any business employing 250 people or more will have to conduct an audit of each energyconsuming part of its business every four years. Politicians and civil servants 26 | 27TH SEPTEMBER - 3rd OCTOBER 2013 | UTILITY WEEK don't, of course, understand the problem. In most British boardrooms there is no director with overall responsibility for energy efficiency. All too often energy specialists have to work with inadequate resources and little or no top level support. Fortunately, many of them realise that prices will surge sig- nificantly and are taking steps to motivate staff to reduce waste. Our new Behavioural Change project already has five large energy users – Anchor Housing, Cleveland Potash, Atomic Weapons Establishment, Wessex Water and Thorntons – working in teams to pinpoint how energy can be saved. The energy customers are now king and many of them deserve a crown. Andrew Bainbridge is the chairman of the Major Energy Users' Council

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