Utility Week

Utility Week 16th June 2017

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Customers UTILITY WEEK | 16TH - 22ND JUNE 2017 | 27 This week Domestic competition is 'dead in the water' Focus on Brexit negotiations will mean opening the domestic water market will not be a priority Domestic water competition is "dead in the water" following the outcome of the general election, senior water bosses have insisted. "I would say it is highly unlikely that it will be rolled out by 2020, and there is a real ques- tion mark over whether it will happen at all," Lord Redesdale, chief executive of The Water Retail Company, told Utility Week. He said domestic competition was not a priority, as the government will be focused on Brexit negotiations. "It's not going to happen," he added. Redesdale, who is also the former energy spokes- person for the Liberal Democrats, said there are "two major problems" with the domestic water market. "One is that the learning from the business market is that the margins are very difficult to make the business case for. The second is that there's not going to be the legislative will or timescale to be able to do it." Castle Water chief executive John Reynolds agreed, saying:"There is no legislative capability for major changes because of the amount of work going into Brexit. It is very unlikely that there will be a change." The government first mooted the idea of domestic competition in 2015, when it proposed the market should open by 2020. Since then, few updates have been given on the government's thinking about the proposal. However, water minister Therese Coffey, who remains MP for Suffolk Coastal aer winning 57 per cent of the vote, has insisted the idea is "still on the government's agenda". LV WATER Savings could be bigger than expected Introducing competition into the domestic water market could offer customers much bigger sav- ings than previously suggested, if companies offer multi-utility packages. Savings could be as high as £150 per year per household, if water is bundled with energy and broadband, according to analysis conducted by Economic Insight on behalf of Southern Water. Ofwat's 2016 cost-benefit review suggested customers would be able to save a maximum of £8 per year on water bills. But Southern Water chief customer officer Simon Oates, who com- missioned the analysis, said the regulator's figure was based on companies providing water alone, and failed to consider the benefits of multi-utility packages. "There are economies of scale between retail services across multiple sectors. If a retailer was to bundle water, electricity and broadband, we believe, based on the analysis done on our behalf, there could be a £120-£150 sav- ing for the customer if these cost economies were passed on." ENERGY Good Energy targets growth via BT deal Independent energy supplier Good Energy has struck a deal with BT that will see it offer dis- counted tariffs to the telecoms company's staff, pensioners and customers in the process of moving home. Discounts to be offered under the agreement could be as high as £130, according to Good Energy. The company also claimed that individuals who take advantage of the promotion will enjoy a dual fuel tariff that is £68 cheaper on average than the standard variable dual fuel deals of the big six. Good Energy chief executive Juliet Davenport said she was "delighted" to work with BT to promote the company's tariff, which guarantees customers buy 100 per cent renewable energy. "This partnership will help us reach tens of thousands of potential new customers, offering them the chance to cut their carbon footprints, take advantage of our award-winning customer service and potentially save on their energy bills at the same time," she said. Niall Dunne, chief sustain- ability officer at BT Group, explained that the new partner- ship will build on existing BT commitments to use renewable energy in its own operations. The group aims to use 100 per cent renewable energy globally by 2020. "Partnering with Good Energy allows us to give our customers the opportunity to be responsible too," said Dunne. Redesdale: 'It's not going to happen' I am the customer Jo Causon "It is up to politicians to find an effective way to deliver" Votes may have been cast and counted, but with the long-term impact of the general election uncertain as I write, questions will remain about the effect it will have on the utilities sector. Had either one of the main parties won a majority, their pledges to commission an inde- pendent review into energy costs or support renewable energy projects may have been easier to act on, but now commentators are debating whether there is sufficient strength in numbers to service means delivering on a promise, or in the case of a hung parliament, finding a way to make things work for the benefit of the voting consumers. In a world where collaboration is becoming far more important to customers and citizens alike, the more we can genuinely engage and reach out, the better. Now it is up to politicians on all sides to find an effective way to deliver. Jo Causon, chief executive, Institute of Customer Service carry through manifesto pledges. This matters because voters' expectations – like customers' expectations – are driven by real experiences and the desire to see a promise fulfilled, meaning the sector will be watching to see how politicians respond to the country's energy needs. A politician's connection with the electorate is mirrored in the relationship between any organisation and its customer. When someone buys a product or service, they have every right to expect a professional service, for organisations to listen to their needs, and for them to act accordingly. The same goes for politicians; for them, customer

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