Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th April 2015

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UTILITY WEEK | 10Th - 16Th AprIL 2015 | 27 Customers This week Eon hit with £7.75m fine for overcharging Penalty follows £12 million fine levelled against the supplier last June for 'large-scale mis-selling' Ofgem has ordered Eon to pay out a total of £7.75 million for overcharging customers follow- ing a price hike, and wrongfully imposing exit fees on those customers who opted to leave the supplier. This follows the regulator's record fine of £12 million, given to Eon last June aer it was found guilty of "large-scale mis-selling" between June 2010 and December 2013. At the time, Eon chief executive Tony Cocker said his company would "start to make amends where mistakes have been made". But now Ofgem has found the big six supplier guilty of overcharging its cus- tomers in repeat instances in January 2013 and 2014. Under Ofgem rules, customers require 30 days' notice of a price rise, during which time they can signal their intention to leave without incurring exit fees. However, Eon wrongfully charged some of the customers who opted to switch as well as overcharged those who stayed. Ofgem said that although 40,000 direct debit and standard credit customers were refunded, the number actually affected was likely "significantly less" than this. However, the regulator said Eon delayed informing the investigation of the thousands of prepayment customers who were also affected by the overcharging. Ofgem described the repeat offence as "absolutely unacceptable" and said the penalty is higher to take this into account. Eon has already repaid customers £400,000 and the £7.75 million additional payout will be made to Citizens Advice to be used to help vulnerable customers. JA WATEr Thames to target Scottish businesses Thames Water says it is aiming to double the size of its Scot- tish business customer base by undercutting incumbent sup- plier Business Stream. The firm's non-domestic arm, Thames Water Commer- cial Services (TWCS), currently serves more than 130 business customers in Scotland, across 600 different sites, but says it is targeting a 100 per cent increase by offering its services at a dis- count of up to 20 per cent. TWCS's head of the Scot- tish team, Alan Munro, said: "Any business here can switch provider, yet due to a lack of awareness, a high percentage still haven't switched." The company said despite being open to competition for seven years, about 90 per cent of the 130,000 business customers remain with Business Stream. EnErgY Switching would rise with simple pricing A simple pricing model would more than double the number of consumers spotting the cheapest energy deal and increase their willingness to switch, according to fresh research that will be submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority. The Which? and EDF Energy report revealed that about nine in ten could spot the best deal with simple pricing in both a price comparison (91 per cent) and a newspaper 'flat table' scenario (87 per cent), compared with 43 per cent in the current format on a price comparison site and 35 per cent in a flat table layout. Of the 2,500 people surveyed, 47 per cent said they would switch energy tariff when looking at the simple pricing table com- pared with 38 per cent who were given the table with the prices laid out in their current format. gAs Ofgem: more of poor should be connected Ofgem has insisted gas network companies must connect more customers to the gas grid, in a bid to help tackle fuel poverty. The regulator said it had reviewed the Fuel Poor Network Extension Scheme and believes the gas networks can connect more eligible households to the gas grid than the 77,000 planned between 2013 and 2021. The scheme aims to assist vulnerable customers in switch- ing to natural gas, one of the cheapest sources of energy, by helping towards the cost of con- necting to the gas network. Network firms will be required to resubmit their plans to Ofgem for consideration, with a revised scheme expected to be in place from 1 April 2016. Cocker: starting to make amends? I am the customer Jonathan Wilkins "Electric motors consume 20 per cent of UK energy" We all want to save energy. Mini- mising monthly bills and help- ing reduce climate change are increasingly important factors that affect our everyday lives. But while it's relatively easy at home to ensure lights are not le on unnecessarily and electrical devices don't spend hours on standby, for large businesses it's considerably more difficult. The Energy Savings Opportu- nity Scheme (ESOS) should help industry get to grips with these latent forms of inefficient energy massive 20 per cent of the UK's total energy consumption and it could so easily be mitigated through the widespread use of variable speed drives (VSDs). As well as the financial sav- ings VSDs could bring, consider that if half of Britain's electric motors were reduced in speed by 10 per cent, it would cut carbon emissions equivalent to the amount generated by 9.8 million executive saloon cars every year. Jonathan Wilkins, marketing manager, European Automation use. The scheme is expected to lead to around £1.6 billion in net benefits to the UK – the cost of running just over 1.2 million standard light bulbs for a year. Although some firms will find they have considerable work to do to ensure they are compliant with ESOS, European Automa- tion welcomes the scheme as a means of raising the profile of and urgency with which energy efficiency is thought about in the UK business community. We hope it will address some of the shocking levels of inefficiency we know exist – for example, 65 per cent of the UK's industrial energy consumption comes from electric motors alone. That's a

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