Utility Week

Utility Week 28th February 2014

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UTILITY WEEK | 28Th FEbrUarY - 6Th March 2014 | 27 Customers This week Industry demands curb on energy costs Survey of manufacturers reveals that rising energy bills threaten growth and investment Manufacturers are calling on chancellor George Osborne to "mount an all-out attack" on rising industrial energy prices in next month's budget. The manufacturers' organisa- tion EEF fears that rising energy prices are "potentially diverting investment and threatening growth". It added that green energy taxes are hitting large and small businesses and said the chancellor must act to protect British business. The EEFs third annual survey revealed that energy costs are now the aspect of the UK business environment its members are "most negative about", and rising energy costs are thought to pose the biggest threat to growth. Half of the 300 respondents said a commitment from government to keep energy costs at – or below – the EU average would be "the single biggest factor" in encour- aging manufacturers to expand their UK operations. The EEF wants Osborne to freeze, and then reduce, the carbon floor price – which it estimates will represent up to 10 per cent of a large industrial user's electricity bill by 2015. It says he must shield "vital" energy-inten- sive industries, such as the steel and chemical sectors, from "excessive energy policy costs by addressing the costs of the Renewables Obligation and small-scale feed-in tariff; and to extend the current energy-intensive industries package to at least 2020/21". Terry Scuoler, EEF chief executive, said: "Many manu- facturers now feel that they are being severely penalised by high energy costs, some of which are being unilaterally imposed and are not shared by competitor nations." MB ELEcTrIcITY Time error 'affects 3.9m customers' Inaccurate clocks on electricity meters mean up to 3.9 million customers are paying too much for their energy, according to consumer group Which? The error on the meters affects customers on time-of-use tariffs, such as Economy 7. Retired engineer Gary Day from south Wales, told Which? that he and three of his neigh- bours had meters that were wrong by several hours. The four householders saved £2,300 aer the clocks were corrected. The faulty clocks in south Wales were all on meters linked to time-of use tariffs with sup- plier Swalec, part of SSE. SSE said staff are not required to check the clocks when they read the meters, although if any problems are noticed then they must be reported. GaS Ofgem 'misses point on standing charges' A call for information on how suppliers treat zero usage gas customers "misses the point", according to Consumer Futures. Ofgem has requested informa- tion on how suppliers treat cus- tomers who have a gas meter but do not use any gas aer changes to tariffs made under Retail Market Review reforms required suppliers to have a single unit rate with a standing charge. Consumer Futures wrote to Ofgem highlighting complaints from customers. Policy manager Andy Hallett said Ofgem has the power to ensure zero usage customers are not billed. A spokesperson from Ofgem said: "This is an initial request for information and we will review that and decide on the next steps once that comes in." ELEcTrIcITY Appliances fall short of efficiency claims Millions of consumers are being duped into paying a premium for domestic electrical appliances that are not as energy efficient as their manufacturers claim according to recent research. A European Union-funded study found that one in five appliances across the bloc are labelled as being more efficient than they are. The UK's Energy Savings Trust (EST) condemned the mislabelling and launched a "mystery shopper" project to investigate manufacturers' claims about the efficiency of their products. "There is an obvious need to recoup any potential sav- ings through establishing more rigorous market surveillance and standards across energy-efficient products and labelling," said EST chief executive Philip Sellwood. The EEF says industry must be protected I am the customer Sean Tomlinson "Midata can generate business advantage" We're expecting to see the gov- ernments' review of the progress of the Midata initiative next month. Midata compels com- panies to give back consumers their personal and transactional data in a standardised, portable electronic format. Consumers can then use this data to forward to competitors; encouraging competition in the marketplace. There has already been some discussion about the success of the scheme so far. Stella Creasy, shadow business, innovation business change. For example, Eon provides a toolkit to break down consumer energy costs and compare them to similar homes. This gives customers an incentive to change their behav- iour, and lets Eon demonstrate it is meeting its obligations. Those that can harness Midata to improve customer service and drive innovation will be the ones that remain competitive. Sean Tomlinson, head of con- sulting, private sector, Steria and skills minister, said in a parliamentary debate that the scheme "has struggled to have any impact for a simple and obvious reason: companies have little incentive to release com- mercial data that could convince a customer to go elsewhere." However, returning data to customers can bring competi- tive advantage. I believe Midata has great potential to not only improve customer service, but also to drive innovation. Savvy utility providers can use it to personalise products and services and use personal and metadata about customers to generate business advantage. Midata can drive positive

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