Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th October 2014

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 25 of 31

26 | 10th - 16th OctOber 2014 | UtILItY WeeK Customers This week EU rules could put up drinking water bills Water UK warns that further eU intervention could result in increased costs for consumers Any further European Union intervention on drinking water standards could lead to unnec- essary extra costs to consum- ers, Water UK has warned. Responding to the EU consultation on the Drinking Water Directive, Water UK said the UK drinking water was "among the very best in the world" and any future changes to quality standards must be based on robust scientific evidence of risks to human health. The trade association said that with British and Euro- pean consumers already facing cost of living pressures, it is "essential" that affordability is taken into account when future standards are set. Pamela Taylor, Water UK chief executive, said: "Drinking water regulators in the UK provide the robust regulation needed to ensure that standards are main- tained and that the water industry is always looking to identify and tackle risks to drinking water and conse- quently safeguarding public health. "It is vital that the EU recognises the standards we already impose on ourselves in the UK, and the impacts that any proposed tighter regulation could have on customers' bills." The European Commission's consultation, which closed on 23 September, sought views on the current level of drinking water quality, the main threats to drink- ing water and possible additional actions that could be taken at EU level. MB eLectrIcItY Study indicates future energy needs Data showing the electricity usage of more than 12,000 UK consumers over a two-year period has been released by Customer-Led Network Revolu- tion (CLNR). CLNR, which is part-funded by Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks Fund, aims to help electricity network operators better understand the consumption and generation patterns of consumers and their future energy requirements. Thousands of the participat- ing consumers had smart meters installed, which provided data on their electricity usage every 30 minutes. Many also used low car- bon technologies, such as solar panels, heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points, which helped the study to examine the effects of using low carbon loads on the electricity grid network. energY Ovo Energy sets up community alliance Ovo Energy has linked up with Plymouth City Council to form an energy company to supply energy directly to its residents. The new company, Plymouth Energy Community, will save residents in excess of £1 million a year in energy costs, according to its chief executive, Alistair Macpherson. Ovo Energy said it plans to democratise the energy market by initiating a power shi away from energy companies and back to customers. It believes as many as 500 partnerships could be formed across the country by 2020, serving up to a million customers. Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder and chief executive of Ovo Energy, said: "What we're offer- ing is a way for trusted groups like local authorities or com- munity organisations to take back the power from companies, which they no longer trust to serve customers' best interests." energY WHD for 200,000 extra pensioners An additional 200,000 pension- ers will benefit from payments under the Warm Home Discount (WHD), aer the scheme was expanded by the government. The initiative has been expanded to everyone in receipt of pension credit guarantee credit, including those also in receipt of savings credit. This means two million people will receive the £140 subsidy – an increase of 200,000 on last year and about twice as many as when the scheme was launched in 2011. The WHD scheme has also been extended to include "hundreds of thousands" of the poorest working age people. UK's drinking water is 'among best in the world' I am the customer Jo Causon "Understanding the root cause of problems is key" The findings from Ofgem's recently released complaints handling report are in line with research from the Institute of Customer Service. The UK Cus- tomer Satisfaction Index shows that customer satisfaction has fallen nationally for the second consecutive year, from 77.9 in July 2013 to 76.3 in July 2014. It is at its lowest point since 2011. Out of 13 sectors, utilities is the lowest scoring with a score of 69.4, but there are organisa- tions within this sector that are surveyed had switched their combined gas and electricity account in the previous six months. More than 60 per cent said customer service was either a very important or an important reason in their decision to do so. Understanding the root cause of problems is key. This knowl- edge and insight can be used to develop an effective customer service strategy and ultimately help to retain customers. Jo Causon, CEO, Institute of Customer Service performing above the national average and some that have shown vast improvements. The institute's research high- lights issues for utility compa- nies, revealing that their custom- ers experience more problems than the national average. Cost makes up a large percentage of those problems, with 34.8 per cent of people reporting it as the cause of their complaint; staff competence accounts for more than a quarter (26 per cent); and not keeping promises is the third highest cause at 19.7 per cent. The institute's recent research into the utilities sector found that 26 per cent of people

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