Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th June 2016

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Page 24 of 31

Customers This week Call to government over Eco replacement Government urged to work with local authorities and communities on new energy efficiency scheme The government must work with local community groups or authorities on the next energy efficiency measures aer the closure of the current scheme in March 2017, Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) chief executive Mike Foster has urged. The Energy Company Obliga- tion (Eco), which requires sup- pliers to install energy efficiency measures in domestic households, is due to enter a transitional year in March 2017 before a new scheme is announced. In January this year, energy minister Lord Bourne told MPs that the recast Eco would focus on fuel poverty. Speaking to Utility Week, Foster said: "Connection to the gas grid is something that for me is a win-win for consumers, but other areas Eco should examine as it moves forward and looks to change… would be looking at working closer with local community groups or local authorities. Firstly, because I think they can be seen as a more trusted partner to deliver energy efficiency compared to an energy supplier because there are issues that are yet to be addressed with trust. I think we need to recognise that." He also said local authorities and community groups may be better at targeting the fuel poor than suppliers. The new scheme, which is yet to be announced, has already faced criticism for not giving enough support to the able-to-pay market and, earlier this year, shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead warned that early signs suggest the replacement scheme for Eco and the Green Deal "won't be good enough". SJ WATER Business Stream gets set for open market Incumbent Scottish water retailer Business Stream has applied to Ofwat for a supply licence that would enable it to participate in England's non- domestic water market when it opens in April next year. The company said the move is "another significant milestone" in its plans to win new custom- ers in England, while retaining a healthy market share in Scotland. Business Stream already has a number of large business customers based in England, including House of Fraser and Bernard Matthews. Business Stream chief executive Johanna Dow said: "Business Stream aims to grow a sizeable foothold in England when the market opens in 2017 and we are exploring all options to help us achieve that." ENERGY Good Energy plans £3.1m share offer Independent renewable supplier Good Energy plans five-fold customer growth by 2020 and aims to involve more customers in ownership of the company through a new share offer. Good Energy is hoping to raise £3.1 million through the issue of £1,495,900 new ordinary shares at the price of 208p per share to encourage more customers to invest. Good Energy founder and chief executive Juliet Davenport said: "We believe our customers are at the heart of our business and should have the option to share in the success of Good Energy. This new share offer gives them the chance, along- side our institutional investors, to be part of the next stage of our growth journey." The current share offer is due to close on 19 June 2016. ENERGY Customer switching nears two million More than 350,000 customers switched energy supplier last month, bringing the total num- ber of switches to nearly two million so far in 2016, according to data from Energy UK. The trade association said this was a 47 per cent increase compared with May last year. Figures for May show a net gain to small and mid-tier sup- pliers of 98,866, which is 27 per cent of all switches. This is down from April, when they had a 33 per cent net gain. Of all switches, 39 per cent were between larger suppliers; 39 per cent were from larger to small and mid-tier suppliers; 12 per cent were from small and mid-tier to larger suppliers; and 10 per cent were between small and mid-tier suppliers. Recast Eco will focus on fuel poverty, MPs told I am the customer Nick Ellins "Smart meter introduction needs new ways of working" By 2020, 53 million smart meters are to be rolled out across Great Britain, as just one part of the drive towards a smarter network, increased consumer awareness and control over their bills. The programme is vast, yet only one aspect of the workforce chal- lenge facing a utility sector that is overwhelmingly responsible for delivering the government's National Infrastructure Plan. The introduction of this interactive technology requires new ways of working. It's not just information they now own, feel 'smarter' and know what to do if they need further guidance. The Energy & Utility Skills Group is working closely with the sector, building the work- force strategy, finding the talent and helping secure those compe- tencies. Our Talent Source Net- work has already attracted more than 2,000 people, and will help ensure skilled installers have sustainable careers aer 2020. Nick Ellins, chief executive, Energy & Utility Skills Group finding the 12,000 new workers needed to physically do the job, it's that the job itself is consider- ably different to traditional utility careers. There's a customer experience requirement; the personal interaction with the customer will be as important as the correct installation of the equipment when judging whether the outcome was successful. Installing companies will need to identify customer satis- faction drivers, then plan how they'll meet – and preferably beat – expectations. Getting it right will ensure when the engi- neer leaves a site the installation is correct, and crucially that the customer is aware of what UTILITY WEEK | 10TH - 16TH JUNE 2016 | 25

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