Utility Week

UTILITY Week 15th July 2016

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Customers This week Water domestic retail market 'a distraction' Implementation of non-household competition being distracted by proposals for domestic market The Treasury's proposal to introduce competition into the household retail market is a "distraction" from the imple- mentation of non-household competition, according to innovation consultancy WRc. Speaking at a conference on water market reform in London, the group's head of water and environment, Karen Wright, said: "I think the pledge to encompass the household market is a distraction, because I think a whole new set of players have now pricked their ears up, and are starting to look a bit more closely." However, she said the parties involved in the time- table to deliver non-household retail are "committed, they're working hard, they're working together", and that she believes it will happen on time. Responding to a question about whether companies that have exited the non-household market will find it more difficult to participate in the domestic market, if they wish to, she said: "They're going to have to do some quite big structural changes if they actually want to continue to be in the household market, whenever that happens later on." She also said smart metering would have an increas- ingly large role to play in the competitive water market. "I think smart metering is something that will become a little bit more important for both retailers and wholesal- ers," she said. "Because of the charging mechanisms, it's very important that accurate data is collected on usage, and smart metering can – if it's implemented correctly – be a far more efficient way of that happening." LV ELECTRICITY EV customers hit with £6 charging fee Electric vehicle (EV) drivers will have to pay £6 to charge their car at motorway charging sta- tions when Ecotricity brings in a flat fee for its Electric Highway. The green electricity supplier is the only provider of motorway EV charging stations in the UK and the fee for a 30-minute rapid charge will be introduced at all 300 of its charging stations by 5 August. It used to offer free access to the charging points. Ecotricity initially planned a £5 fee for a 20-minute charge, but faced a backlash from hybrid vehicle owners who claimed the rate was not well suited to the charging period offered as they need 30 minutes to get the ideal 80 per cent battery charge. The supplier said it needed to start charging for the service to maintain and grow the network because usage trebled in 2015. WATER Brexit 'could affect customer legitimacy' Water companies must plan for a scenario in which inflation rates are higher, and interest rates and growth are lower aer Brexit, posing a "very significant chal- lenge" of maintaining customer legitimacy, Ofwat chief executive Cathryn Ross has warned. Speaking at a water market conference, Ross said: "There is a scenario, one that is being raised by, among others, the Bank of England, that foresees higher inflation, lower interest rates and lower growth. "That scenario could pose a very significant challenge for the water sector. A challenge of customer legitimacy." She said this scenario could damage customer legitimacy because water companies could remain a "very attractive invest- ment proposition" and enjoy sub- stantial financial outperformance at the same time as their custom- ers became poorer and found it harder to pay their bills. WATER NI Water halts home meter installations NI Water is to stop any further installation of water meters at domestic properties in Northern Ireland, Chris Hazzard, infra- structure minister in the North- ern Ireland Assembly (NIA), has announced. However, regulations will now need to be brought to the NIA before the installation of water meters in domestic proper- ties can be stopped completely, which the minister confirmed will be done as soon as possible. Hazzard said: "In the current financial climate, the continued waste of public money to install meters which will not be used cannot continue." New set of players turned on to household retail I am the customer Norman Kerr "It is time for Scotland's fuel poverty target to be reset" The Scottish government recently admitted what the rest of us, working in fuel poverty, have known for some time: that the statutory target to eradicate fuel poverty by November 2016 will not be met. In some ways it's good to finally have that admis- sion as this means we can now move on with the real discussion of what happens next, but it's sad that it's taken so long to not only realise it but to admit it. So where does that leave the Scottish consumer? Well making energy prices less of a worry for vulnerable consumers. It is now time for the Scot- tish government to sit the key players around the table, reset the fuel poverty target, continue to commit funding to the newly promised National Infrastructure Programme for energy efficiency and use the new Scotland Act powers to benefit not just vulnerable consumers but all energy consumers in Scotland. Norman Kerr, director, Energy Action Scotland firstly we need to ensure that the support already provided by the Scottish government via schemes such as the Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland (HEEPS) continues. Making homes more energy efficient reduces the demand for energy and has a positive impact on the environment, reduces fuel bills and helps tackle fuel pov- erty. However that alone won't eradicate fuel poverty and that's why the Scottish government needs to look very carefully at the new powers it has in terms of energy. The Warm Home Dis- count, the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payments can all play an important part in 28 | 15TH - 21ST JULY 2016 | UTILITY WEEK

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