Utility Week

UTILITY Week 21st November 2014

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UTILITY WEEK | 21sT - 27Th NovEmbEr 2014 | 13 Policy & Regulation This week ENErgY Restrictions may end for Economy Energy Ofgem has proposed liing restrictions on Economy Energy that prohibit the supplier from signing new customers following "significant" improvements in its customer service. Economy Energy, which has around 50,000 customers, has "resolved the majority of the issues that its customers, most of whom are on prepayment meters, had been experiencing". This included putting processes in place to reduce the time it takes to get a customer back on supply, extending call centre opening hours and improving the speed of answering customer calls. The regulator issued a pro- visional order in February, ban- ning the supplier from signing up new customers, aer it was alerted to a high level of com- plaints by watchdog Consumer Futures. Ofgem also launched an investigation in September to check if the supplier had met with its licence conditions when communicating with customers. Ofgem is now required to consult for at least 28 days on the proposal. gas Shale is 'opportunity not to be missed' Developing the shale gas indus- try in the UK is "an opportunity we can't afford to miss", accord- ing to the energy minister. Matthew Hancock said that developing the shale gas indus- try "has the potential to bolster our energy security, provide jobs, and help with carbon emis- sions". He added that, alongside ensuring the UK has a secure energy supply, developing the shale gas industry in the UK is his "top energy priority" and "in our national interest". "It is our duty to ensure we don't ignore this vital energy opportunity – it is something that I feel very strongly about. "Leaving shale gas in the ground means missing the potential for up to £10 billion economic return," he added. ENvIroNmENT Greg Barker to head London commission London mayor Boris Johnson has appointed former climate change minister Greg Barker as chairman of the London Sustain- able Development Commission. Johnson said Barker would bring his wealth of knowledge and experience on climate change to help London meet the environmental challenges posed by an expected population rise of 37 per cent from today's levels. Barker resigned from his min- isterial post in July and does not plan to stand for re-election as Bexhill and Battle MP next year. Political Agenda Mathew Beech "The Lib Dems are fighting for their political futures" It is April 2015 and Decc has just published the latest Ed Davey speech. It reads: "Hello and it is a pleasure to be here today. [Political content removed.] "Thank you and goodbye." That is all Decc will be able to publish, if Davey continues ramp- ing up his partisan positioning. With less than six months to go until the general election, the energy secretary seems to have taken this as the starting pistol for the race to Westminster. He has become increasingly ally centre – it is party politics but also internal party politics. The Lib Dems need to shout about what they achieved in government and what they stand for. If they fail, they will be lost under the unambiguous tidal wave that is Ukip and the squab- bling Labour and Tories. They are fighting for their political futures. As for Davey, making lots of noise that will resonate with core Lib Dem voters is a canny move – and one that will bolster his bur- geoning leadership ambitions. vocal over the poor legacy le by Labour and continued to attack Ed Miliband's price freeze plans. And the emboldened Davey has also set his cross-hairs on the Tories – in particular, their loathing of onshore wind. This, he said – but not according to the Decc records – would be a "mistake of historic proportions". He even went on to say "these latest Tory green wob- bles may be explained by Nigel Farage" and that the detestation for onshore wind is spreading to solar – and potentially further into the renewables sector. As to why Davey is grand- standing, attacking red and blue le, right and – well, not actu- Scottish Power must improve to avoid ban ofgem gives supplier three months to improve customer service or face ban on proactive sales Scottish Power could be banned from proactive sales unless it improves its customer service within the next three months, the regulator Ofgem has warned. The big six energy supplier has been beset by problems with customer service since it introduced a new billing system a year ago. Last week it was also revealed that the supplier recorded the highest percent- age of billing errors among the large energy suppliers, according to Uswitch. Neil Clitheroe, Scottish Power's chief executive, retail and generation, apologised "unreservedly" to customers and gave "personal assurance that we will do what we can to correct every problem". Ofgem has specified improvements in three key areas and said Scottish Power must answer all customer que- ries promptly; halve the number of overdue bills from 75,000 to 30,000 by the end of December; and resolve all outstanding ombudsman complaints. The regulator said it had also launched an investiga- tion into the way Scottish Power treated its customers. Ofgem senior partner in charge of enforcement Sarah Harrison said: "This is a clear signal to suppliers to up their game and give consumers the service they are entitled to." Clitheroe said Scottish Power had employed an addi- tional 250 members of staff to deal with the problems. Scottish Power is the latest in a line of energy sup- pliers whose customer service suffered following the introduction of new billing systems. JB Harrison: 'Suppliers need to up their game'

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