Utility Week

Utility Week 10 07 15

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22 | 10TH - 16TH JULY 2015 | UTILITY WEEK Customers This week Gas distribution price to fall 5.5% by 2021 Ofgem projects average payment for gas distri- bution in a consumer bill will come down to £133 The average payment for gas distribution in a consumer bill will come down by 5.5 per cent from £141 to £133 by 2021, energy regulator Ofgem has predicted. Speaking at a Utility Week conference in Birmingham last week, Ofgem senior manager of smarter grids and governance, Robert Beavis, said: "If our pro- jections going forward are correct, that would mean that the average payment for gas distribution services in a consumer bill will move [down] from £141.02. At the end of the price control [in 2021], that will be coming down by 5.5 per cent to £133. There's a success story here, that would be really good news and, of course, this sets the benchmark for future price controls." Beavis said the gas distribution companies had so far "outperformed" their allowances under RIIO-GD1, by carrying out services for lower than the price control allowed. "This means they get a 64 per cent slice," he added. "And consumers get a 36 per cent share of that as well, so good news for consumers." Overall, distribution charges currently make up 16 per cent of a consumer bill, with transmission charges accounting for 2 per cent of a gas and 4 per cent of an electricity bill. The RIIO-GD1 price control was imple- mented in 2013 to "drive benefits for consumers". Beavis also noted that the level of customer satisfac- tion with the gas distribution networks was rising. "In terms of customer complaints, [the companies] all met their target scores, and things seem to be improving," he said. LV WATER 'Rigorously validate' data, firms are urged Open Water has urged water com- panies to "rigorously validate" their data so they can accurately identify non-household custom- ers ahead of market opening. The call comes aer results from a trial revealed discrepan- cies between the water compa- nies' data of non-household cus- tomers and the actual number of non-household customers. In the trial, Albion Water, Anglian Water, Cambridge Water, Essex and Suffolk Water, Northumbrian Water, Severn Trent Water, South Staffordshire Water, and Thames Water used external datasets and a combi- nation of automated and semi- automated methods to identify non-household customers. A total of 31 per cent of prem- ises in the water company records were not found in the list of non-household properties, while 23 per cent of non- domestic prop- erties were not found in the water company records. The success rate ranged from less than 40 per cent to more than 95 per cent. WATER New IT cuts Anglian customer call times Anglian Water has cut the time it spends dealing with customer calls aer overhauling its call centre IT system. A review of the system, imple- mented in November last year, has shown the new program used by call centre agents to bring up customer information has cut call times by 78 seconds. The time it takes agents to complete the forms within the system has also fallen from two- and-a-half minutes to 30 seconds. The old program had 20 screens and boxes that required completing, but the new 1Customer system, developed with Capgemini, keeps the important customer infomation in one box on the screen for the call centre agents. ENERGY EDF 'gets disability support right' The Business Disability Forum (BDF) has singled out energy sup- plier EDF as best in class for its customer service for the disabled. It said EDF is "a good exam- ple" with its Personalised Support Service (PSS) of building empathy for the disabled and older cus- tomer and a personalised service for all types of disabilities into its mainstream service. BDF said all suppliers need to adopt this approach if they are to secure the loyalty of a rapidly expanding older customer base. Through relaunching its PSS in 2014 and upgrading its web- site, EDF has added more than 125,000 vulnerable customers to its Priority Services Register. Bright future: companies are outperforming I am the customer Jeremy Nicholson "A bit more competition for subsidies might be good" For energy consumers of all vari- eties, the million dollar question is "will my bill keep rising?", as it has done for the past five years. Optimists will point out that global oil, coal and gas supplies look more than adequate to meet demand in the immediate future, and possibly well beyond, which should keep wholesale prices low. UK electricity demand has yet to recover to pre-recession levels and in the industrial sector may never do so because of demand destruction such as has recently been decarbonising ahead of expectations. A bit more competition for subsidies between novel low- carbon technologies, and a bit less money thrown at mature technologies such as onshore wind, might be a very good thing. Every other industry has to stand on its own feet, without subsidy – mature renewable technologies will need to do so too, if they are to have a sustainable future. Jeremy Nicholson, director, Energy Intensive Users Group closure of aluminium smelters, energy efficiency and growth in distributed generation. So the supply-demand balance this winter may not be as tight as previously feared, especially with the additional reserve supply and demand response measures introduced by National Grid. On the other hand, climate policy measures are set to get much more expensive over the medium term so electricity prices will rise further, unless the government takes action. This might have implications for renewables investors, but so what? It is not renewable deploy- ment but decarbonisation that matters – and the UK economy

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