Utility Week

UTILITY Week 11th November 2016

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

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Customers This week Smart meter campaign denies setbacks Smart Energy GB says large energy suppliers have not changed targets and it is still 'on track' The consumer campaign for smart meters is still "on track to meet 2016 targets", despite lengthy delays at the smart meter network operator. Smart Energy GB, which runs the campaign, told Utility Week it had not received any revised targets from suppliers. The latest delay to the Data and Communications Company (DCC) means that foundation meters – which could have interoperability problems – are still being rolled out to households and the overall rollout could be severely delayed. Smart Energy GB director of policy Claire Maugham said: "Smart Energy GB's targets are set each year by the large energy suppliers, and our campaign is planned carefully to meet those targets. "We are on track to meet all our 2016 targets, with independent evaluation showing we are achieving excel- lent value for money. Any mid-year change to our targets would need to be made by the large energy suppliers, and we have received no instructions of revised targets." Most of the big six suppliers declined to comment on the impact of the recent delays, but EDF and Eon remain confident that the rollout will be a success. Eon said it appreciated the complexity of the DCC's task and, despite the delay, it has continued installing smart meters. An EDF spokesperson said: "It is vital that the IT sys- tems underpinning the rollout are fully tested to ensure they are fit for purpose and we are working closely with the DCC to support them with this process." SJ WATER Business Stream's multi-utility offer Scottish water supplier Business Stream has said it will consider offering a multi-utility service to customers when the English water market opens next April. The company has emphasised that it is "growth-focused", and is exploring opportunities for partnerships and acquisitions. Speaking exclusively to Utility Week, chief executive Johanna Dow said: "As part of our review, we have been considering a multi-utility offering. "Naturally we are exploring a number of possible options which would help deliver strate- gic growth, including partner- ship opportunities and further acquisitions – where we can find the right fit," Dow said. Rumours of energy company involvement in the water market are rife in the industry, but so far only four energy companies have expressed tentative interest. ENERGY DCC delay could hit energy consumers Consumer group Citizens Advice is concerned that repeated delays to the launch of the Data Communications Company net- work may hit consumers through their energy bills. Citizens Advice chief execu- tive Gillian Guy told Utility Week the group is "concerned" that the communications system for the rollout of new smart meters has been repeatedly delayed. "If these delays lead to a rise in the overall cost of the smart meter rollout, consumers could end up having to cover this by paying more through their bills," she warned. WATER South East sets out retail ambitions South East Water has set out its ambitions for the non-household water market, which include growing market share nationally. South East Water Choice managing director James Dubois told UW: "Looking aer existing customers is the primary focus. But we do have some national ambitions, those will start with servicing the national branches of our local customers. "To give us the ability to do that, we also have to have the water supply and sewerage licence to operate out-of-area. "We're using Invicta Water – a dormant company which doesn't have any transactions on it – as a vehicle to operate out-of-area, trading as Water Choice South East. We do see at some stage transitioning all our customers into Water Choice South East." South East Water applied for a sewerage licence in August so it could offer sewerage services to 55,000 business water customers. DCC delays have not derailed meter campaign I am the customer Allen Creedy "Ofgem has been slow to take the lead again" Speculation that Ofgem may not take forward plans for a Code of Practice for TPIs seem to have gathered pace. This is concerning, particularly given the near-unanimous support from suppliers, TPI representa- tives and consumer groups for measured regulation, to cut out the bad and promote the good. One of the stumbling blocks is around what this regula- tion might look like. There are various models already in play across the industry. Some TPI Ofgem has been slow to take the lead again, perhaps con- cerned about the new burdens placed upon them aer the CMA's long list of energy market recommendations. If this is true, it's disappoint- ing. But it would be a chance for industry to step up. There are good regulatory models out there. The industry could, between themselves, agree on the best one and get on with it. Allen Creedy, energy policy chair, FSB representative bodies enforce standards for their membership, and a number of energy retailers will only work with TPIs that subscribe to certain conditions. Many of these schemes are good in their own way, but they all have one thing in common – they won't work unless most of the industry signs up to them. The CMA energy market investigation didn't specifically address a TPI Code of Practice but, instead, pushed the issue back to Ofgem. But the CMA acknowledged the work that Ofgem had done with the energy industry to understand the issues around TPIs and come up with a proposed regulatory framework. UTILITY WEEK | 11TH - 17TH NOVEMBER 2016 | 25

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