Utility Week

UTILITY Week 3rd July 2015

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

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This week Half-hourly charging for electricity delayed Ofgem extends the deadline for mandatory half-hourly pricing by a year, to 1 April 2017 Ofgem has granted a one-year extension to the implementation date of its mandatory half-hourly pricing rules, pushing the dead- line back to 1 April 2017. The regulator granted the extension to the P272 rules in response to a request by Elexon on behalf of the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) panel on 12 June this year, which said it had concerns about accu- racy being affected by short implementation timescales and said there is a risk of supplies being interrupted. Ofgem had already rejected the request by the BSC this year in April, saying an extension on its own would not address these problems. However aer a subsequent modification raised by Npower, known as P322 – in which all sites in the affected classes with advanced meters must be moved to half-hourly settlement within 45 days of customer acqui- sition or contract from 5 November 2015 – it decided to approve the resubmitted extension request. Ofgem said: "We consider that the P322 alternative, together with a one-year extension to the P272 imple- mentation date, will address the risks to consumers and settlement from implementing P272 by 1 April 2016. Extending the P272 implementation date will signifi- cantly reduce the risk of contract interruptions." Haven Power's chief executive Peter Bennell warned last month that the introduction of half-hourly charging would result in sharp price increases for many business customers, but would inevitably drive energy efficiency uptake. LD ENERGY Npower calls for metering 'coherence' Npower has called on industry and government to work together to be as "coherent" as possible in developing smart metering. The supplier told Utility Week the lack of co-ordination between the three major meter- ing programmes that suppliers are currently simultaneously undertaking is risking cus- tomer trust and has resulted in "unforeseen consequences". The rollout of the domestic smart meter programme, the Nexus gas system and the move towards half-hourly metering for business customers within a short timeframe has added to the complexity of implementing the "difficult and complicated" schemes, Npower said. A spokes- person added: "Customers need to feel like they understand all of this, and that they know what's going to happen, and what the division is and how it's going to all come together and work." ENERGY Complaints to ombudsman up 128% Ombudsman Services said it has experienced "another record-breaking year" as energy complaints rose by 128 per cent in 2014/15 on the previous year. The ombudsman said it han- dled 61,019 energy complaints during 2014/15, more than double the number in 2013/14 of 26,760 and more than five times the number in 2012/13 of 11,291. It said the rise in complaints "follows a turbulent year for the energy industry, with mount- ing consumer dissatisfaction, market investigations and Ofgem imposed sanctions". It received 140,092 initial contacts, up from 87,542 the pre- vious year, of which 46,632 had their complaints resolved. WATER Anglian expands meter programme Anglian Water has extended its water metering programme as it seeks to install 15,000 meters over the next eight months. Staff from the water company will visit targeted areas in King's Lynn, west Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire to install new meters and update older ones. This is being hailed as a new approach by Anglian, with the company's water-saving experts also providing free home visits and audits for customers. Customers who have a meter fitted will have the option to con- tinue receiving an unmeasured bill or switch to a metered bill. Those who choose to switch will be able to swap back to an unmeasured bill free of charge during the first two years if they're not completely satisfied with their metered bills. Modification: Npower added to call by Elexon I am the customer Nicola Eaton Sawford "If you want my attention, you need to stand out" I am the customer and social media plays an increasingly important role in my life. If you provide me with products and services, or wish to, you should consider how my behaviour is changing – to reach me and influence me, you need to be where I am and prick my interest. According to a report by the Institute of Customer Service, in just 12 months the number of customers making complaints via social media has risen from 3 per cent to 12 per cent. to present to customers, via what social media channel and crucially, at what point in time. Gaining clarity of purpose and being able to attribute value to these activities is becoming increasingly important as social media teams balloon and have to justify their costs. Social media has potential in all aspects of the customer experience, not just in brand building and marketing. Nicola Eaton Sawford, managing director, Customer Whisperers I am more empowered than ever before and more willing to use that power. I am influential in my extensive networks and my networks have more influence over me (in 2014, Nielsen found that 61 per cent of customers spent significant time on social media researching a purchase). As my social media activity increases, my feeds are becom- ing cluttered. If you want my attention, you need to stand out from the crowd and be super- relevant to me in that moment. The challenge all this pre- sents to organisations, including utilities, is in understanding the customer experience so well that they can determine what content UTILITY WEEK | 3RD - 9TH JULY 2015 | 23 Customers

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