Utility Week

UTILITY Week 9th June 2017

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Customers UTILITY WEEK | 9TH - 15TH JUNE 2017 | 25 Thames Water's "bin it – don't block it" awareness campaign has seen fatberg blockages reduced by 26 per cent across east London. The water company currently spends around £12 million each year removing blockages, with the London boroughs of Newham, Epping Forest, and Barking and Dagenham being particular hotspots for fatbergs. WATER East London sewer blockages plummet after Thames campaign Matt Rimmer, head of wastewater networks at Thames Water, said "eight times every hour, one of our customers suffers a blockage caused by items being flushed away or put down the drain which shouldn't be, so it's vital we get people to change their ways". The "bin it – don't block it" campaign featured leaflets, posters and poems circulated in problem areas and published in local papers. It was supported by adver- tisements on social media and Thames Water's dedicated "bin it" website, which features advice on disposing of fat and highlights how household waste can cause blockages. The website says there are 6.7 million blocked drains each year in the UK. Free fat traps for storing used This week Renewables 'priority for small businesses' Drax Retail uncovers appetite for sustainable energy in a survey asking SMEs what they want Three-quarters of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have said they'd like their supplier to do more to support the growth of renewable energy in the UK. Drax Retail uncovered the appetite for sustainable energy services in a recent survey aimed at understanding what smaller business users want from their energy. Jonathan Kini, chief executive of Drax Retail, which includes Haven Power and Opus Energy, told Utility Week that customer focus on renewables provides a "fantastic opportunity" for the company. He said it will enable Drax to develop new business models, based on helping customers to cut costs. Kini commented: "Some companies will use the energy they buy and also energy they create. If we can get the partnership right and stop just having a tariff conversation, and say 'how do we start to look at this in a different way', I think new models will grow." Kini added that he believes it will be "beholden on suppliers" to develop ways of promoting resilience in the B2B customer base, rather than sustaining transactional relationships. He said Drax has already established this kind of service-based partnership with some "super- sophisticated buyers". In the future, the approach will spread into the SME base, he argued. In particular, Kini anticipated that SME customers will display a growing appetite for a combination of solar and battery storage "if the right deal can be con- structed". "It's not quite there yet," he said. "But I can see in the next two or three years that being a normal conversation, and energy retailers will have to think about what their part is in that." JG See interview, p6 WATER Smaller customers still lack awareness Awareness is still a "big issue" in the water market, especially among smaller customers that do not know they have the option of switching retailer, Business Stream has warned. "There is definitely more work to be done," said Business Stream chief executive Jo Dow. "And if you look at Scotland, we haven't got it perfect either. Customers are still saying that they don't realise there's an active market and that they can switch." Dow told Utility Week the market is still not seeing a lot of switching, or requests for switch- ing, from small and medium- sized enterprise (SME) customers. "I think that is due to the fact that there isn't currently enough of an incentive for those custom- ers to switch, with the margins as low as they are," she said. However, she added that awareness was also a major contributing factor, and that con- stant engagement with customers will be needed to "keep remind- ing [them] they can switch". WATER Supply point switches top 22,500 In the first two months of the market, 22,539 supply points switched water retailer, data from the market operator has revealed. This includes 10,969 sites that pre-switched in March, before the market opened. "Two months into the new market, we have 35 water retailers competing to provide businesses with new tariffs and services. And we've seen 22,539 supply points switch with many more to come. That's great news," said Market Operator Services Ltd (MOSL) former chief executive Ben Jeffs in a letter to employees. Jeffs' last day as chief execu- tive of MOSL was 1 June. His successor, Chris Scoggins, will take up the role on 12 June. WATER Leadership group to shake up efficiency The UK water industry has launched a leadership group to encourage the use of "more ambitious" water efficiency programmes that track and drive improvement in customer service. Jean Spencer, Anglian Water's director of strategic growth and resilience, will chair the group, which will include Waterwise managing director Nicci Russell and water sector chief customer officers, customer service direc- tors and managing directors. Its first roundtable event will be held on 9 June, and will focus on increasing customer participa- tion in future projects and initia- tives, and motivating customers and communities to get actively involved in reducing water waste. Waterwise said the group will "encourage water companies to be ambitious in water efficiency, customer service and resilience planning and investment". Kini: renewables 'fantastic opportunity' for Drax cooking fat and oil were also distributed to 51,000 homes. As a result of the campaign, almost 70 per cent of people in parts of the target areas are said to have changed their behaviour when it comes to disposing of household waste. "A big thank you to everyone who has taken our advice on board, which is clearly making a difference," said Rimmer.

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