Utility Week

UTILITY Week 25th September 2015

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

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Customers This week Battery sell-out 'will not affect UK launch' 'Crazy off the hook' orders for Tesla Energy's Powerwall storage will take until mid-2016 to fulfil The unexpected sell-out of Tesla's Powerwall energy storage battery until mid-2016 will not affect plans for a UK rollout that year. The firm told Utility Week the UK market arrival is still due during the first quarter of 2016. A spokesperson for the com- pany said: "Reservations have come in worldwide but will be spread over time as we work on entering different markets with Tesla Energy." Tesla launched the Powerwall, which is designed to collect and store excess energy from roof-mounted solar panels and small-scale wind turbines, in May. It claims the technology will "wean the world off fossil fuels". Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said interest in the batteries had been "crazy off the hook", with 38,000 orders having been placed in the first week, and the company predicts that fulfilling them all will take until at least mid-2016. The Powerwall is available in 10kWh form, set up for back-up applications, or as a 7kWh unit optimised for daily-use applications. Both can be connected to solar or grid and both can provide back-up power. Tesla said it is working with utilities and other renew- able power partners worldwide to deploy storage on the grid to "improve resiliency and cleanliness of the grid as a whole". However, details have not yet been released about any possible deals with UK energy companies. Energy consultant John Scott told Utility Week that if 5 per cent of UK customers buy the Powerwall battery, decentralised energy storage capacity would increase to 10.5GWh. LV ENERGY Independents cut their prices again Independent suppliers First Utility and Utilita have both trimmed their tariff offerings in a bid to undercut the competition. First Utility has cut the price of its fixed one-year energy tariff for the second time in a month, cutting its isave Fixed November 2016 tariff to £848. This offer is £42 cheaper than its previous fixed tariff, the isave Fixed Octo- ber v2, which was announced only last month. Meanwhile, prepay energy supplier Utilita has cut its gas tar- iff for the second time this year, by an average of 2.1 per cent. The growing independent supplier offered a 5 per cent tariff reduc- tion earlier in the year, meaning its tariff is now almost 8 per cent lower than it was in January. Utilita's managing director Bill Bullen said the company was able to pass on the savings as a result of lower wholesale gas prices, which have followed the collapse of the global oil price over the past year. WATER Dee Valley updates engagement strategy Dee Valley Water has overhauled its customer engagement regime with the intention of using the improved feedback to shape its PR19 business plan. Feedback will now be pro- vided on a "regular and daily basis" rather than during less frequent and bigger pieces of work commissioned specifically for the price review, as a result of Dee Valley's partnership with customer engagement specialists Rant and Rave. The full feedback channels will be in use from 24 September when the email channel goes live, joining the SMS engage- ment currently in operation. WATER CCWater calls on Southern to improve The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has demanded an improvement from Southern Water to its customer service aer it was named the most complained about company for a third year in succession. Southern Water recorded the highest number of complaints of any of the water companies in CCWater's annual report, with 70.4 per 10,000 connections – more than double the industry average of 34.2. This was despite a 12.8 per cent drop in the num- ber of written and telephone complaints received by the firm. The only other companies with above-average complaints were South West Water (which saw numbers fall by 9.9 per cent), Anglian Water (up 0.6 per cent), and South East Water (down 44.5 per cent). Powerwall: 'will wean the world off fossil fuels' I am the customer Richard Lloyd "The energy sector's 68 per cent average was the lowest" Our annual survey looking at how customers rate the UK's 100 biggest brands was pretty grim reading for the energy industry. We asked 3,500 consumers which companies ranked highest for customer service and those who could do with pulling their socks up. Aer coming second bottom last year, Scottish Power had the lowest rating with a customer score of 59 per cent, just ahead of Npower with 61 per cent. Both companies got just two stars for making people the phone and not billing them correctly. The vast majority of con- sumers feel customer service is important when deciding which companies to use, and 88 per cent say that poor service puts them off using a brand again. With smaller suppliers gaining market share there is a clear incentive for their bigger rivals to up their game and make customers smile, not seethe. Richard Lloyd, executive director, Which? feel valued as a customer, for knowledge of product or service and for helpfulness of staff. The average score for the energy sector was 68 per cent – the lowest of the markets we looked at – and all of the big six were in the bottom half of the table. Eon was joint 87th with a score of 70 per cent; EDF and British Gas were joint 73rd (71 per cent) and SSE was top of the big six with 74 per cent (joint 51st). With the market being inves- tigated by the CMA, we believe long-suffering energy customers deserve better. People told us they were fed up with energy suppliers falling down on basics such as leaving them hanging on 26 | 25TH SEPTEMBER - 1ST OCTOBER 2015 | UTILITY WEEK

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