Utility Week

UTILITY Week 27th January 2017

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4 | 27TH JANUARY - 2ND FEBRUARY 2017 | UTILITY WEEK Double billing biggest concern for switchers Double billing was the biggest con- cern for switchers last year, according to a survey of 1,000 people conducted by Utility Week in partnership with Harris Interactive. 1/3 of people who switched last year cited "double bill- ing" as their main fear. 1/4 worried their new deal would leave them worse off. 15% were concerned their service might be cut off. 37% were first-time switchers. 3/4 switched to save money. 10% said they wanted better customer service. STORY BY NUMBERS Concerns surface ahead of water market opening Seven days... A range of concerns have been expressed ahead of the opening of the non-domestic water market to competition in April, relating to issues ranging from cus- tomer awareness to wholesaler readiness. Recently released research from Ofwat shows that only one-third of businesses are cur- rently aware they will be able to switch, though just over 50 per cent of those surveyed said they would consider switching. Organisations in the con- struction, retail, financial and insurance, and public adminis- tration and defence sectors were significantly less likely to be aware of upcoming changes to the water retail market. The survey also found that most participants would prefer to renegotiate with their existing water and wastewater sup- pliers in an attempt to reduce costs while "maintaining a familiar and satisfactory level of service". Ofwat chief executive Cath- ryn Ross said market opening is "a real opportunity" for custom- ers, "but first they need to know more about the new market". She said this is why Ofwat is "working with partners and the water sector to launch an impor- tant awareness campaign". Business Stream chief executive Johanna Dow also cast doubt over the readiness of water wholesalers for the opening of the market in a presentation at Utility Week's Water Customer conference in Birmingham. Dow questioned whether wholesalers "really know what's coming". (See feature, p28.) LV "The need to challenge existing institutions and incumbents is nowhere more true than in the energy sector" Lucy Symons, director of public policy at Open Energi, welcomes the government's industrial strategy (news, p18). National media Shell to sell UK assets Shell's plans to sell its UK oil assets are expected to move ahead within weeks, ahead of an M&A boom for the North Sea. City sources said private equity backed investment funds are expected to close in on asset sales from Shell as well as French energy giant Engie amid rising investor confidence in oil. Daily Telegraph, 22 January C of E backs fracking The fracking industry has praised the Church of England aer two groups at the church tentatively backed the controversial technol- ogy as a way to help the UK cut carbon emissions. Shale gas was a "potentially useful element" in switching to a low-carbon economy because it is cleaner than coal, so long as it does not harm renewable energy's expansion, a church briefing paper said. The view puts the church at odds with Christian environment groups opposing fracking, who say it risks exacerbating global warm- ing and holding back cleaner alter- natives such as wind and solar. Guardian, Jan 18 Scots government moots energy firm A Scottish government-owned energy company that would poten- tially go head to head with "big six" utility companies has been proposed by ministers at Holyrood. The Scottish government is pro- posing to create a taxpayer-owned energy company that could supply power on a not-for-profit basis as part of its latest energy strategy, published on Tuesday (24 January). A government-owned energy company could also potentially act as an issuer of "renewable energy bonds", similar to green bonds used to finance low carbon schemes, according to the strategy which will be put out for consultation. Financial Times, 24 January

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