Utility Week

UTILITY Week 16 05 14

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24 | 16th - 22nd May 2014 | UtILIty WEEK Customers I am the customer Mervyn Kohler "One-off measures won't lift people out of fuel poverty" There were some good things in the Eco consultation that closed last month. Programmes for the fuel poor were largely pro- tected, if at the expense of those designed to promote solid wall insulation (in which the fuel poor also have an interest). But fundamentally, is Eco headed in the right direction? It is delivering a significant number of measures, but those measures, as one-off interventions, will not individually li households out of fuel poverty. Are we counting have developed, they have lost some of their focus. Their purpose must be to make houses fit for people to keep adequately warm at an affordable cost. Over the years, energy spokespeople have talked the language of com- prehensive energy refurbishment, but that is not what we are seeing from Eco in its current form. As a result, we are unable to count how many households have been freed from fuel poverty. Mervyn Kohler, external affairs adviser, Age UK the right interventions – or simply counting any interven- tions? All will help in general, but when we have a team on site installing a new boiler without regard to the insulation of the house, we're not making the most of the opportunity – we're just doing one job, in blinkers. The programme is not going to deliver what the customer expects, so there's a risk that ultimately customer interest in the programme and the pursuit of energy efficiency will fade, and could even turn to hostility. That's not where we want to be in respect of encourag- ing behavioural change. As our energy efficiency programmes This week Npower still propping up complaints table npower is the worst of the big six for customer complaints for the fourth consecutive quarter Npower remained bottom of the big six customer complaints table for the fourth consecutive quarter, according to figures from Citizens Advice. The supplier received 306.8 complaints per 100,000 custom- ers in the final quarter of 2013 – up from 235.1 in the third quarter. Citizens Advice said there had been "no improvement" in the number of complaints made against Npower, with bills arriving late, payments being stopped, and new accounts not being set up. When chief executive Paul Massara joined in January 2013, he staked his reputation on getting Npower to the top of the customer satisfaction charts by 2015. At the end of 2013, Massara wrote a letter to all Npower's customers to apologise for the poor levels of customer service. Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: "It is unacceptable that Npower has not yet sorted out the serious failings in its billing systems and customer ser- vice which are causing so many complaints and serious problems for its customers." Roger Hattam, Npower director of domestic retail, said the company was making "good progress in deal- ing with the root causes" of the problems, and remains "totally committed to resolving any problems". Scottish Power also suffered in the latest figures, fall- ing from second place to fih, with customer complaints doubling to 100.5 per 100,000 customers. Top of the table was SSE, with only 31.5 complaints per 100,000 customers. British Gas (53.7) came second, ahead of Eon (55.8) and EDF Energy (62). MB EffIcIEncy Scottish households get green cashback Households in Scotland have been offered up to £7,300 as part of the latest phase of the Scot- tish Government's Green Homes Cashback scheme. The £15 million scheme will provide funding to households towards the cost of installing energy efficiency measures that have been recommended on a Green Deal assessment report. The money will be available from June this year, with private landlords, and private and social tenants all eligible to apply. Up to £6,000 can be claimed back for solid wall insulation and up to £1,200 has been made avail- able for customers who install measures from three approved lists, including lo insulation and condensing boilers. EnErgy Call for retail broker rules to be stronger UK energy buyer Utilyx has called on the regulator to take even tougher measures than pro- posed to promote transparency surrounding the fees charged by the third party intermediaries (TPIs) in the retail energy market. Last Friday Ofgem ended its consultation on a new code of conduct for retail energy brokers. Under the proposed rules, Ofgem would require the intermediaries – including switching websites, energy brokers and energy effi- ciency advice providers – to be completely clear with businesses about their fees, the contracts they offer and which suppliers they represent. But Utilyx has urged the watchdog to go further, calling for complete transparency on the fees brokers earn for arranging energy deals. Utilyx estimates that 350 TPIs buy around three- quarters of the energy used by UK businesses, amounting to £15 bil- lion annually. As much as 0.5 to 1 per cent of the average energy bill could be made up of "hidden charges", the company said. EnErgy Community projects 'need better policy' Community-led sustainable energy projects are "not taken seriously enough" by the govern- ment, according to academics. A new report from the Uni- versity of East Anglia (UEA) said "better policy support is still needed to get grassroots environ- mental projects off the ground". The authors recognised that the government's community energy strategy was a "big step forward" but called on it to do more to support community schemes. The report said "changing policy priorities… undermine local efforts to build projects" and the sector needs "imagina- tive policy support". Unhappy: 306.8 per 100,000 Npower customers

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