Utility Week

UTILITY Week 16th September 2016

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6 | 16TH - 22ND SEPTEMBER 2016 | UTILITY WEEK People & Opinion Early clarity will ease Eco delivery Government must ensure the reformed Eco scheme focuses on those consumers in greatest need, while still remaining cost-effective. Director's view Keith Armstrong, director of energy services, SSE I n August, we submitted our response to the government consultation on the next phase of the Energy Company Obligation (Eco), which is due to run for one year from April 2017. Under Eco, we help the insulation industry with fund- ing towards energy efficiency measures in consumers' homes, to help them save money, live more comfortably and to reduce carbon emissions. In exchange, installers provide us with evi- dence of the carbon savings and bill savings, which are then claimed against the Eco scheme. At SSE, we are committed to playing an active role in deliv- ering the UK's fuel poverty and energy efficiency objectives and we will continue to work hard to deliver measures that work in the best interests of customers. We recognise the importance of juggling several policy aims in designing the new Eco scheme; namely achieving the fuel pov- erty strategy, meeting the Con- servative manifesto pledge to insulate one million homes by 2020, putting the energy effi- ciency supply chain on a more stable footing and ensuring that customer bills remain affordable. With the changes proposed to Eco, we hope to see these objec- tives being achieved. We strongly believe that an energy efficiency scheme should be customer-centric, cost-effec- tive, simple to administer and fair. It should also be focused on helping those most in need. While we understand that gov- ernment has committed to con- tinue to fund this policy through energy bills, we still believe that such a social policy should be funded progressively, through means-tested taxation, so that those most able to pay bear more of the costs and those on a lower income are protected. While the proposals stop short of this, we were pleased to see the government's commitment to ensuring Eco better targets peo- ple living in fuel poverty. We have long argued that Eco support should be targeted towards those in greatest need and it's good to see the government working to achieve this. The challenge is in balancing greater targeting with the need for the scheme to be cost-effective, so the key will be to make sure that, through greater data sharing, partner- ships and flexibility, finding eligible households won't drive up costs. Alongside the general concerns expressed in the indus- try about finding enough eligi- ble homes under the new rules, experience from earlier schemes has also shown us that delivery to those most in need becomes more effective alongside a less targeted programme. We can see the government is looking to transition into a longer-term fuel-poverty-focused supplier obligation. With the vol- ume of changes proposed, Eco in 2017/18 will take some key steps towards achieving this. One of the things we've sug- gested to help implement the changes effectively is a transition period for solid wall insulation schemes, which can take longer to install than other measures. This will help to ensure there are no "winners and losers" and those households where measure installations are in flight at the end of March 2017 can still reap the full benefits of Eco. We were pleased to see pro- posals looking to simplify the administration of the scheme, because we believe this will ease delivery. We'd be happy to see regional deemed scores intro- duced, so the claimed savings for measures more accurately reflect the benefit achieved in differ- ent locations. The government, through the Bonfield review, also has the chance to link the new policy to stronger consumer pro- tection and industry standards. We look forward to seeing government's response to this consultation, so we can start to put our plans in place to deliver a reformed Eco in the most cost- effective way. Having early clar- ity about any policy changes will help to ease delivery, so that energy efficiency measures can continue to be delivered to con- sumers, to help them cut bills, reduce carbon emissions and live in a more comfortable home. We will engage closely with government in the coming year so we can deliver a successful energy efficiency scheme to the households who need it most, and feed into the design of any future obligation. ECO MEASURES INSTALLED, BY MEASURE TYPE, BY QUARTER, UP TO END MARCH 2016 120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 Number of measures installed Source: BEIS Total cavity wall insulations Total loft insulations Total boiler installations Total other measures Q1 Q1 Q1 Q1 Q2 Q2 Q2 Q3 Q3 Q3 Q4 Q4 Q4 2013 2014 2015 2016 660,028 454,219 389,954 289,943

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