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UTILITY Week 26th June 2015

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UTILITY WEEK | 26TH - 2ND JULY 2015 | 9 Policy & Regulation Energy supplier SSE has told the Competition and Markets Authority investigation that Ofgem rules prescribing how information is presented on bills are confusing customers. SSE said it had "concerns" about how prescriptive the regu- lations were, and felt "it should be up to suppliers to present information in a way that their customers found most helpful". ENERGY SSE says information on bills confuses customers SSE said suppliers were in a better position than Ofgem to listen to their customers and find out how they wanted to be communicated with, and that customers had said they found the current bill layout confusing. Since Ofgem reforms to bill- ing in April 2014, suppliers are obliged to provide information designed to help consumers manage their energy, such as a projection of each consumer's use on bills. A consumer must also be informed of cheaper tariffs from their supplier to help them choose the cheapest deal. SSE said the regulator's role should be to set the minimum amount of information that should be included, and leave the design of the bill to each supplier. It said it was designing a simpler version. This week Water licences readied for market opening Regulator consults on plans to enshrine planning for market opening in water company licences Water companies must be ready for market opening in 2017 or risk breaching their licence con- ditions, under plans published by Ofwat this week. The plans, out for consulta- tion, would enshrine the market preparations in the company's licenses, with three broad duties: a general obligation to carry out any required activities to ensure the smooth and timely expansion of the competitive retail market; a more spe- cific obligation to carry out the set of activities defined in a transition plan; and an obligation to provide more information on areas of specific concern if necessary. This proposal comes aer Wessex Water boss Colin Skellett told Utility Week at the start of this month a more "formal" assurance process was required to monitor company progress before market opening. The chief executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, Alan Sutherland, also told Utility Week that "readiness tests" should be introduced. In its consultation, Ofwat also proposes to end in-area trading bans for companies to "create a level playing field that will encourage rivalry between retail suppliers". This would create "effective competition" by allowing incumbent retailers to challenge for commercial con- tracts in their own regions and challenge for contracts across multiple sites. Alongside this reform, Ofwat is looking to allow self- supply licences to be granted, similar to those that exist in the Scottish market. This would let customers become water retailers for themselves and associated entities. The regulator also said it will require current licence holders to reapply for a retail water and wastewater licence, via a "simplified application process". MB ENERGY Yeo: 'CMA must publish evidence' The former chair of the energy select committee has warned the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) against "any lack of transparency" in its ongoing investigation into net- works price controls. Tim Yeo has spoken out against the CMA's decision not to publish evidence submitted to it as part of its investigation. He told Utility Week that the CMA should make its evidence public. "These distribution com- panies receive less public and media scrutiny than, for example, the big six," Yeo said, "despite the fact that their charges are a significant element in consumer bills." Unlike in the CMA's wider investigation into energy market competition, the submissions made to the CMA as part of the inquiry into Ofgem's RIIO-ED1 network price controls will not be published because the authority has no statutory obli- gation to do so. But Yeo said the "strong suspicions" that networks have been dealt with too leniently mean "any lack of transparency on the part of the CMA" would be regrettable. Yeo was an critic of Ofgem's regulation of networks while heading the Energy and Climate Change Committee. In March this year, Utility Week revealed that British Gas had followed suit, referring Ofgem's price settlement for five of the six elec- tricity networks to the CMA on the grounds that it is too lenient. The affected companies are UK Power Networks, Electricity North West, Northern Powergrid, SSE and Scottish Power, which hold 10 regional distribution licenses between them. But Western Power Distribution, whose regulatory settlement was fast tracked by the regulator last year, has not been affected. The CMA has until September to determine the appeal. WATER Talks continue on Scots water contract The Scottish Government has been forced to extend Business Stream's public sector water deal for a second time in three months aer failing to award the new contract. The Scottish Government has stretched the current contract to provide water and wastewater services to more than 100 public sector organisations until the end of September while nego- tiations continue over whether Business Stream or Anglian Water should be awarded the new £350 million contract. The original decision was due to be made in February, but the Scottish Government delayed the decision, with discussions enter- ing a "standstill period". The second extension will take effect from the end of this month to "allow contract cover" for the public sector as negotia- tions continue. The contract for the new supplier, should the contract be awarded before a third extension is required, would start from October this year. The Scottish Government was urged in February to rethink the plan to award the contract to Anglian, which is thought to have tabled the most competitive bid. The Scottish Green Party said it was "appalled" the contract could be awarded to a privately owned English com- pany rather than to a subsidiary of Scottish Water, which is fully publicly owned. Skellett advised more 'formal' assurance process

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