Utility Week

UTILITY Week 27th February 2015

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UTILITY WEEK | 27Th FEbrUarY - 5Th March 2015 | 23 Customers This week Suppliers must reveal white label tariffs Energy firms will have to tell customers about cheaper deals with non-licence-holding partners Energy suppliers will soon be required to include their white label offers when inform- ing customers of the cheapest available tariffs, under final proposals put forward by the regulator. Ofgem already requires sup- pliers to tell customers if they offer a cheaper deal, but they have not been required to include deals that are offered through a non-license-holding company as part of a so- called white label arrangement. Currently, British Gas supplies energy through the white label Sainsbury's Energy, and SSE holds white label arrangements with M&S Energy and Ebico. Ofgem has allowed suppliers to offer an unlimited number of white label tariffs to the market, although it has imposed a four-tariff cap on their direct offerings. Until now, it had not expected the same level of trans- parency for these arrangements. "Selling energy through white label brands has the potential to increase consumer choice and engage consumers to shop around through well-known brands," said Ofgem senior partner Rachel Fletcher. "But it is important that consumers are given the com- plete picture about all their supplier's tariffs. "That is why we are acting to reduce barriers to white labels entering the market and to ensure suppli- ers have to tell consumers what their cheapest deal is, whatever brand it is marketed under," Fletcher added. The new rules are expected to come into effect from July. JA WaTEr Affinity agrees social housing discount Affinity Water has agreed a dis- counted water tariff for custom- ers living in social housing with North Hertfordshire Homes. The six-year deal will replace the standing charge and rate- able water charge with a single discounted charge of £90 from 1 April. This will save house- holds an average of £87 per year. About 3,000 tenants will qualify for the tariff, which will be collected for Affinity Water by North Hertfordshire Homes. Sewer charges are unchanged. Vincent Muldoon, Affinity Water's director of customer relations and business services, said: "The 3,000 tenants from North Hertfordshire Homes are the first group of customers migrated to our Li social tariff." Affinity Water's target for the Li tariff was 7,000 households, but more than twice that number have already signed up. WaTEr 'No noticeable shift' towards efficiency There has been "no notice- able shi towards more water efficiency and demand-side measures" by water companies, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Comparing business plans from PR09 with the PR14 plans, CCC economic adviser Alex Townsend said there are oppor- tunities to roll out efficiency measures that are "yet to be fully exploited". By increasing effi- ciency, he said, water companies will help manage pressures on customer bills and make sup- plies more resilient. Townsend added that Ofwat must monitor companies to see whether "the positive commit- ments" made in the PR14 busi- ness plans "are translating into greater ambition over the longer term" on water efficiency. EnErgY Ovo and Anesco fight fuel poverty Ovo Energy is working with energy-efficiency company Anesco to tackle fuel poverty by improving energy efficiency in fuel-poor homes. The firms have signed a two-year contract to deliver the government's Energy Companies Obligation (Eco) to residential properties most in need of effi- ciency upgrades such as boiler replacements and lo insulation. Anesco chief executive Adrian Pike said: "A key objec- tive for the UK is not to build more generation, but for every- body to use less energy." Ovo Energy Eco manager Sebastiaan Van Dort said the company "fully supports" the government in its drive to reduce energy consumption in the UK. 'White label' deals could save customers money I am the customer Gillian Guy "What can be done now to help prepay customers?" Prepay customers are getting a second class service from energy firms compared with those on other payment methods. Citizens Advice is calling on suppliers to sign up to its Consumer Demand. Prepay customers have few ways to top up and a limited choice of tariffs, they must pay to have unreachable meters moved and an extra £80 on their bills. The industry says smart meters will cure all the inherent problems with prepay. But what can be done now? struggling households. The rollout of smart meters is an opportunity for suppli- ers to tackle the stigma of prepayment meters, and make pay-as-you-go energy an attrac- tive option for all consumers. There is already some good work being done by the industry to innovate and help customers, but a greater effort is needed to create a level playing field for prepay customers. Gillian Guy, chief executive Citizens Advice As it stands, many suppliers have only one pay-as-you-go tar- iff resulting in a lack of options for consumers. Suppliers could give customers more choice by offering at least two attractive pay-as-you-go tariffs which could also help increase competition in this area of the market. There is a desperate need for energy firms to bring their pay-as-you-go systems into the 21st century. Being able to top up online, over the phone or by text would make a big difference to how people manage their bills. Auto-crediting meters with rebates such as the Warm Home Discount and the £12 govern- ment rebate would also help Photo: Ian Enness)

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