Utility Week

UTILITY Week 27th January 2017

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UTILITY WEEK | 27TH JANUARY - 2ND FEBRUARY 2017 | 3 This week 4 | Seven days 6 | Interview Lord Rupert Redesdale and Jacob Tompkins, co-founders, The Water Retail Company 10 | The Topic Smart metering on the brink of becoming a reality 18 Policy & Regulation 18 | News Energy retail market in 'last chance saloon' 18 | Political agenda Government hopes to have its cake and eat it – on energy policy at least 19 | Analysis Everything you need to know about Ofgem's Supplier Cost Index 20 Finance & Investment 20 | News Ministers consider green bank flotation 20 | Stock watch Drax share prices buoyant after Opus acquisition 23 | Analysis Proposals to withdraw the exemptions from balancing and transmission charges enjoyed by embedded generators 24 Operations & Assets 24 | High viz Northern Ireland Water's call for 12 apprentices 25 | Pipe up It's a good life being an HGV driver for a utility 26 Customers 26 | News Some water retailers will fail, warns Ofwat 30 Community 31 | Disconnector Still no love for energy companies While the water market struggles to get any visibility at all with customers ahead of non-domestic market opening (see p4), energy suppliers continue to suffer an embarrassment of publicity – in more ways than one. Already this year we have seen a splurge of stories in the national and industry press which show that despite a long-term decline in the cost of dual fuel energy supply since 2014 and widespread efforts to rebuild the reputation of the sector, energy companies are little closer to obtaining public trust than they were when the Competition and Markets Authority's investigation into the sector was triggered. Most recently, national papers have reported on a warning issued by Ofgem that suppliers have no excuse to raise energy prices in the current market environment – despite volatility in the wholesale cost of energy. The coverage came aer the release of Ofgem's first Supplier Cost Index, a metric designed to boost transparency around price setting over time (see analysis, p19). Adding to this scrutiny of fair play in energy supply, Roger Wit- comb, chair of the CMA's energy market investigation, used Utility Week's Energy Customer Conference as a platform to criticise the "incredibly opaque" financial reporting delivered by suppliers. His criticism of a retail market that, as a result of its continued failings, may soon find itself "a thing of the past" was echoed by Ofgem's Rachel Fletcher who said the market was in "a last chance saloon". Some suppliers have found things to celebrate. Ovo Energy has received recognition for topping the Which? customer satisfaction chart for the second year in a row, and People for Places Energy – a new entrant – was pleased to be ranked second. In business retail, Citizens Advice crowned Eon the most effective of the largest 15 energy suppliers in the market. However, for every chart topper there is a laggard, and it will take more than a handful of celebrations at the sector's top performers, or even boasts of improved switching rates last year, to alter the persis- tent belief held by a large proportion of the public – and their repre- sentatives in government – that the energy market is not working. The shadow of this knowledge hangs over the industry as it begins a challenging year, with concerns about the treatment of vulnerable customers and the effective delivery of smart meters already brewing. Jane Gray, Deputy Editor janegray@fav-house.com GAS 10 | The Topic Smart metering on the brink of becoming a reality 26 | News Gas grid connections 'should not be funded by Eco' WATER 18 | News Ofwat wants a quick decision on domestic competition 18 | News 'No place' for brokers in the water market 24 | High viz Northern Ireland Water call for apprentices 26 | News Brewer to supply own retail services ELECTRICITY 19 | Analysis A new metric to indicate the cost of serving customers 23 | Analysis Embedded generation demands a broader review of network charging ENERGY 18 | News Ofgem replaces controversial SMI 20 | News 'Opaque' finances damage trust in suppliers 26 | News Eon is best small business supplier 26 | News Customers fear bungled switching Visit the Downloads section of the website WNS: The UK Smart Meter Rollout http://bit.ly/2espIJ3 ESRI: How location information is improving stakeholder engagement http://bit.ly/2fEwLP9 Certas: Balancing capacity market concerns: setting the record straight on fuel http://bit.ly/2essYnG Leader Jane Gray

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