Utility Week

Utility Week 30th September 2016

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Customers This week Rebrand for Affinity Water business arm Affinity for Business to be introduced to non- household customers in company's supply areas Affinity Water has rebranded its business retail arm as 'Affinity for Business', ahead of water market opening in April next year. The company has applied to Ofwat for a licence to provide water supply and wastewater services across England and Wales. It is the final incumbent water company to make its intentions known. It is intended that Affinity for Business will become the retail supplier for customers in the Affinity Water regions via the Retail Exit mechanism. The new brand will be introduced to non-household customers in the Affinity Water supply area throughout the autumn. Affinity Water chief executive Simon Cocks said: "At Affinity Water we are committed to establishing ourselves as the UK's leading community-focused water company. A key component of this relates to how we support our business customers. "I am delighted to announce the launch of the Affin- ity for Business brand as part of our preparation for the new market when it opens next year. The dedicated Affinity for Business team will continue to provide a high-quality service to our business customers and support the communities we serve." Affinity for Business director Helen Gillett said: "We have exciting plans for the new retail market which will enable us to deliver even better, high-quality services that enable our customers to concentrate on their core business activities." All of the incumbent water companies have now announced their plans, at least for the short term. LV PAN-UTILITY Ending vertical integration 'key to customer protection' Ending the vertical integration of the energy and water compa- nies is the best way to ensure that customers are protected from poor deals, according to former shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy. Speaking to Utility Week at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Nandy said completely removing the link between the wholesale and retail arms of energy and water companies will "make the market genuinely competitive and transparent". Building upon her "democ- ratisation of energy" speech from last year when she was a member of the shadow cabinet, Nandy said ending the connec- tions between the wholesale and retail elements of the utilities would deal with the issue of a lack of competition. "One of the problems is that we say we have a competitive market but we haven't. "If you look at the direction of travel across Europe, the answer is not pulling power back in – whether through states or private monopolies – it is about handing real power to customers." WATER Gas supplier subsidiary targets water retail market Regent Water, an associated business within commercial gas supplier Regent Gas, has applied to Ofwat for a water supply and sewerage licence, which would allow it to participate in the water retail market when it opens. Regent Water said it aims to supply water and offer further services to small, medium-sized and large corporation businesses across England and Wales, through independent energy brokers. The company was incor- porated on 12 June 2015, and was granted a supply licence in Scotland in February this year. This is the 16th application for a licence since Ofwat opened the process in April. ENERGY Eon pays customers and charities £3.1m Eon has paid out £1.2 million to its customers, aer it failed to properly compensate them for missing appointments. It has also paid £1.9 million to energy charities – including to National Energy Action's 'Help for Heroes' scheme – as part of a "redress package" agreed with Ofgem. "In 2014 Eon came forward to Ofgem, reporting it had missed some appointments with custom- ers, and hadn't then paid com- pensation to affected customers as required by the guaranteed standards," the regulator said in a statement. "Aer Eon volun- teered this information to Ofgem, we were able to work with them to make improvements and agree a redress package rather than take formal enforcement action." Cocks: company committed to community focus UTILITY WEEK | 30TH SEPTEMBER - 6TH OCTOBER 2016 | 23 Government is "not being clear" on the benefits of smart meters, according to a report by the Sci- ence and Technology Committee. The Committee said there are "too many objectives" for the rollout, which may hinder its implementation. "The govern- ment should be clearer about the primary purpose of smart meter- ing and use this to drive evalua- tion of the project," it said. ENERGY Government 'must be clear' about the benefits of smart meters "Smart meters need to be clearly understood by the con- sumer and provide information in a format that the customer finds helpful. In order for con- sumers to benefit directly from smart metering there will need to be appropriate investment in customer engagement, given that this is being introduced in an era of low public trust in util- ity providers," the report added. The government lists 11 dif- ferent objectives for the project, including saving customers money on energy bills – despite the fact that the amount of money saved by individual con- sumers is expected to be small. The report said the major ben- efits will be in paving the way for a smarter energy system that will enhance energy security and reduce pollution. However, the report supports the use of in-home displays as part of the smart meter rollout because they provide a "neces- sary feedback mechanism" on energy consumption. Smart meter security was also dis- cussed and Committee members met with the government's security experts from GCHQ, who gave them "confidence that secu- rity is being taken seriously".

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