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Utility Week 28th November 2014

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UTILITY WEEK | 28Th NovEmbEr - 4Th DEcEmbEr 2014 | 27 Customers This week Sutton and East Surrey extends pilot SESW to extend social tariff pilot after hitting its target of 2,000 households four months early Sutton and East Surrey Water (SESW) is extending its pilot social tariff scheme aer hitting its target four months early. The water company launched the pilot tariff in April this year and set a target of attracting 2,000 households to sign up by the end of March 2015, but it has now met this goal. SESW will continue to accept applications for the social tariff from its customers as it now works towards its March 2016 target of having 5,000 households on the social tariff. The scheme offers 25 per cent off water bills and this discount increases to 50 per cent for the second year of the pilot. The pilot is being funded by SESW, although in subsequent years it will be funded via a £2 contribution from non-eligible customers. Research indicated that about 75 per cent of SESW customers supported the introduction of the scheme. To be eligible for the social tariff, customers must be in receipt of certain means-tested benefits; or have an income of less than the HMRC's low-income threshold (£16,010) and either be over 62 years of age, have a dis- ability, or parental responsibility for a child under five. SESW's head of retail services Jeremy Downer said: "I am really pleased that we have managed to reach our target for this year to reduce water bills for 2,000 of our customers. Our team can be really proud of the work they have put in to promote this scheme and the com- mitment they have shown in helping these customers make savings on their water charges." MB ENErgY Smart meter study shows 6pc bill fall British Gas has concluded the first detailed study of smart meter use in homes, saying customers could save up to 6 per cent on their annual bills by being more aware of their energy use. The UK's largest energy supplier said the "most detailed study ever undertaken" shows customers are able to save money on their energy bills through more efficient behaviour as a result of the smart meter energy monitor installed in their home. The study was conducted by an independent research com- pany over 10 weeks and included 14 homes across Britain. The results show the homes used 6 per cent less gas and 7 per cent less electricity, "sim- ply by being more aware of their energy use", British Gas said. ENErgY Ofgem publishes complaints records Ofgem has published data comparing how effectively the six major energy companies resolve customer complaints, to "increase the pressure on them to improve". Npower and SSE top the com- plaints resolution table for the third quarter of 2014, resolving 97.19 per cent and 97.02 per cent of customer complaints, respec- tively, within eight weeks. Scottish Power (92 per cent) and Eon (93.8 per cent) were the worst of the major suppliers, while British Gas and EDF Energy resolved 94.8 per cent and 96 per cent of complaints, respectively, within the eight-week timeframe. The eight-week period was used because any complaint not resolved within that time can be referred to the Energy Ombuds- man for investigation. ENErgY Suppliers failing to explain TCR Energy suppliers are not explaining the Tariff Comparison Rate (TCR) properly to consum- ers, according to Which? The consumer watchdog said that without having the TCR explained, customers will not be able to accurately compare energy deals. As part of its Fair Energy Prices campaign, Which? phoned 13 suppliers six times each, ask- ing them to explain the TCR. Only Eon and Npower gave an accurate description, but only in two of the six calls they each received. The TCR provides an illustra- tive cost for an energy tariff based on medium gas and elec- tricity usage, and is intended to help consumers compare tariffs. Which? executive director Richard Lloyd called on suppliers to adopt simple pricing "similar to petrol pump displays", to help consumers find the best deal. Path to success: SESW hit its target early I am the customer Richard Warren "It's a shame that Decc did not include £/MWh analysis" Earlier this month, Decc pub- lished its latest assessment of the impact of energy and climate change policy on energy bills. With four of these reports now available for comparison, I'd like to highlight a few points. First, previous reports gave impact assessments both on an energy average bill basis (domes- tic and various non-domestic) and on a £/MWh basis. Given the uncertainty regarding the energy efficiency improvements that can be expected, the £/MWh assess- particularly when the trend is in an upward revision each year. Finally, Decc's analysis should put pay to the idea that increas- ing low-carbon generation lowers wholesale costs. When we factor in the likelihood of low-carbon generation being the marginal plant at greater frequency in the future and carbon pricing, we actually see a net rise in whole- sale costs of 36 per cent by 2030. Richard Warren, senior energy and environment policy adviser, EEF ment was extremely useful and transparent. It is a great shame that Decc decided not to include the £/MWh analysis this time. Second, perhaps unsurpris- ingly where direct comparisons between estimates are possible, there is a great deal of variation. The 2010 report estimates that for a medium-sized business, policy costs would increase electricity bills by 29 per cent. In 2011 this rises to 25 per cent, the 2013 report projects 38 per cent, while this year's says 50 per cent. Much of this is due to the chang- ing policy landscape, but it is nonetheless worrying to see such uncertainty from government on the impact of its policies,

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