Utility Week

UTILITY Week 12th June 2015

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

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UTILITY WEEK | 12TH - 18TH JUNE 2015 | 27 Customers This week Eon to roll out smart energy offering in UK Platform will provide information about the total cost of a device alongside its environmental impact Eon is set to roll out a new energy efficiency offering to its UK customers by the end of the year, following the acquisition of smart-energy company Enervee. Enervee provides a platform on which consumers can make more energy-efficient choices on household appliances, devices and electronics through a com- prehensive scoring process that compares the efficiency of a product with all those in a specific category. A spokesperson for Enervee said from a technical point of view the platform could be ready for use in the UK "in as little as eight weeks". Although it is expected by the end of the year, talks with Eon as to when exactly the platform will hit UK shores are "ongoing". A decision on a start date is expected in the next two months. The platform will provide customers with cost of use information in an understandable format, combined with a marketplace that Eon's senior vice president for technology and innovation, Susana Quintana-Plaza, said will "be able to give our customers even greater support in making choices that save energy". The platform also compares the resulting "Enervee Score" with popularity and review information. Enervee chief executive and cofounder Matthias Kur- wig said: "Providing easily accessible information about the total cost (purchase price and cost of use) alongside environmental impact empowers consumers to take better decisions, especially when that information is seamlessly integrated in the marketplace at the time of purchase." LD ENERGY Big six blamed for slowdown in growth Independent supplier Ovo Energy has told the Competition and Markets Authority that a "strategy change" by the big six suppliers has slowed its growth in the market. Since October 2014, inde- pendent suppliers have been winning less market share than they did in the preceding year, which Ovo said was due to the introduction of "loss-leading acquisition tariffs" by the big six. Ovo said the pricing strategy of the big six changed between October 2014 and March 2015, with larger differences in price between standard-variable pric- ing and discounted and promo- tional pricing emerging. Ovo said the difference of 25 per cent between standard- variable and fixed-term tariffs is disproportionate to the 6 to 7 per cent found by Ofgem to be the difference in the cost of providing the services, and that the cheaper tariffs were being subsidised by low wholesale prices, which are not being passed on to customers. ENERGY Companies 'need post-Eco2 clarity' The National Insulation Asso- ciation (NIA) is calling on the government to make a "quick decision" to give energy compa- nies clarity about the future of the Energy Company Obligation (Eco) aer it ends in 2017. The NIA has made the call aer identifying a potential funding gap for energy efficiency measures by energy companies already "well advanced" in fulfill- ing their commitments under the current scheme, without a similar scheme lined up to replace it. NIA chief executive Neil Marshall said the lack of Eco2 replacement when the scheme ends in March 2017 is resulting in "no incentive" for energy firms to continue providing measures without knowing they will count in the next obligation period. ENERGY Ofgem offers clarity on white labels From October, energy suppliers with "white labels" must inform customers of the cheapest tariff for them even if it is sold under a different brand name, Ofgem announced last week in its final decision on how white labels in the domestic energy market will be regulated. Currently, suppliers are forced to tell their customers if they offer a cheaper deal, but from autumn the suppliers will need to include deals that they sell through white labels – organisations that don't hold a supply licence, but instead work in partnership with a licensed supplier to offer gas and electricity using their own brands. Platform will compare efficiency of appliances I am the customer Lewis Shand Smith "Billing issues accounted for 85 per cent of all complaints" On 8 June, Ombudsman Services published for the first time data on the complaints it received and resolved – broken down by supplier for the ten biggest energy companies in the UK. This is a milestone for the energy industry and positive news for consumers, who will be able to make better-informed decisions. They will be able to easily access full data sheets that make complaints about energy suppliers transparent. The data sheets show that in Over the past year, consum- ers were most irritated by billing issues, which accounted for 85 per cent of all complaints made. But energy companies have made great strides in the past year, as more than three-quarters of complaints were settled via early resolution or by mutu- ally acceptable settlement. We remain committed to ensuring consumers and suppliers reach resolution on complaints quickly. Lewis Shand Smith, chief ombudsman the year to March 2015, con- sumers made a total of 140,092 enquiries about the UK's biggest energy suppliers, with 46,632 complaints resolved over that period. In addition, new stronger powers introduced last month mean that all participating companies must implement rem- edies in full within 28 days of a recommendation being made. This is significant, as failure to do so will be detrimental to the complainant – and the energy company's reputation. This will mean cases have the impetus to be solved more quickly and that penalties will be tougher for energy companies who do not comply.

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