Utility Week

UTILITY Week 26th May 2017

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Customers 26 | 26TH MAY - 1ST JUNE 2017 | UTILITY WEEK The Conservatives have said they will launch an independent review into the cost of energy if re-elected. The manifesto makes a series of commitments, including a review to "ensure UK energy costs are as low as possible". "We want to make sure that the cost of energy in Britain is internationally competitive, both for businesses and for house- ENERGY Tories set out ambition to achieve 'lowest energy prices in Europe' holds," the manifesto said. The Conservative ambition, it added, is that the UK should have "the lowest energy costs in Europe". As previously reported, the document also contained a commitment to cap energy price rises (see Lobby, p12). It said the Conservatives will extend the "standard tariff cap", which is currently applies to some vulnerable customers, to others on the "poorest value tar- iffs". There is also a commitment to consult on how to extend the cap to micro-businesses. The document also promises to upgrade all fuel poor homes to EPC Band C by 2030 and review requirements for new houses. It reiterates a previ- ous general election statement that the Conservatives "do not believe more large-scale This week Reserve 'enhanced' for performance only It is the performance of companies that custom- ers care about, not the quality of their plans T he Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has said that "enhanced" status should be awarded to water companies based only on their performance, not just the quality of their business plans. "We supported the enhance- ment measures in the last price review," said CCWater chief executive Tony Smith. "But we think there is a bit of a flaw in it in that it is giving com- panies a prize at the expense of their customers before the company has actually done anything." The "really important thing" for customers is perfor- mance, he said, speaking at a panel discussion in the water wholesale theatre at Utility Week Live. "We think one of the elements of enhancements, or otherwise, should be about the performance as much as it is about the plan, because it is the performance the customer sees." He added that the incentives regime "needs to be simplified quite a lot", and added: "We do applaud the idea of focusing on the customer elements of that." Ofwat director of strategy and planning John Russell, who was also on the panel, agreed with Smith. "That is why the regime does allow for companies to move up and down in those categories as we go through the period," he said. Ofwat chairman Jonson Cox has stated in the past that Ofwat expects "enhanced" quality business plans from all companies in PR19. Russell reinforced this stance, saying the regulator will set performance commitments in a "stretching and challenging way". LV ENERGY Customers want help to find best deals A third of UK consumers would like verbal advice to help them switch energy suppliers, a sur- vey by switching site Moneyex- pert.com has revealed. Twenty-nine per cent of the more than 2,000 UK adults canvassed said verbal support, either over the phone or face to face, would be valuable. Extrapolated over the entire UK population, this would put verbal advice on the wishlists of 7.9 million customers, said Moneyexpert.com. A third of respondents over 55 were keen on face-to-face help to find the most competitive deals. Of those who have never switched supplier, 46 per cent do not know how their energy bill is calculated. Over a third (36 per cent) of all respondents said they think their bill is affected by the UK region in which they live in and one in five (18 per cent) are unaware that paying by direct debit can make a differ- ence to how much they pay. Confidence was higher among those who have switched supplier. Two-thirds (66 per cent) said they believe they understand how their bill is calculated. The findings come as a number of high-profile price rises from large energy firms are due to hit. They also accompany a tense environment in which political parties vying for votes in the upcoming general election have promised energy price caps to stop excessive bills and cus- tomer detriment. Many industry leaders fear a cap would have unintended consequences on competition, bills and switching rates. ENERGY Spark targets tenants with dedicated tariff Spark Energy has joined forces with lettings group Leaders to offer tenants access to the suppli- er's customer service and tariffs. Under the partnership, new tenants will be offered Spark's Move-In Saver tariff, which is checked every month to ensure it is cheaper than the average big six rate. Spark's commercial director Ian Crowther said: "Our custom- ers enjoy products, service and communications that are designed around their specific tenure and aim to make home moving simpler." Leaders is part of Prop- erty Services Holdings. Chief operating officer Peter Loverdos said: "Spark's knowledge and understanding of the lettings industry was a key factor in our decision." Last week, Utility Week reported that Spark Energy had bought Sussex-based broadband firm Home Telecom for an undisclosed sum. The deal was the company's first since its management buyout in 2016, and will make it the UK's first multi-utility company aimed specifically at the rental sector. It's all about real life service delivery onshore wind power is right for England". However, the party does commit itself to supporting development of more offshore wind projects and pledges to support fracking by increas- ing the amount of tax revenues available to communities through the Shale Wealth Fund. The manifesto says shale energy "could play a crucial role in rebalancing the economy".

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