Utility Week

Utility Week 23 06 17

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UTILITY WEEK | 23RD - 29TH JUNE 2017 | 25 Customers The water industry is in danger of slipping behind other utilities when it comes to providing value for money to customers, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has warned. The latest annual Water Matters survey by the consumer watchdog revealed about three- quarters of households in Eng- land and Wales are satisfied they get value for money from their WATER Water firms trail behind energy and telecoms companies on value water (73 per cent) and sewerage (76 per cent) services. The scores compare unfa- vourably with the perceived value for money of energy services, says CCWater. Its survey of more than 5,400 customers revealed that 80 per cent of gas and electricity and 79 per cent of telephone landline providers were satisfied with the value of their services. However, most bill payers are satisfied with the service pro- vided by their water supplier (93 per cent) and sewerage provider (88 per cent). CCWater chief executive Tony Smith said: "Value for money is not just about reducing bills. It's about water companies sharing their financial successes with customers and showing them how their money is being used." This week Citizens Advice says cap must go ahead Government should close gap between costs paid by consumers and remedies proposed by CMA Government must introduce an energy price cap "sooner rather than later" Citizens Advice's director of energy Victoria MacGregor has urged. Her comments come amid rumours that prime minister The- resa May is under pressure from some Tory colleagues to drop the manifesto commitment. They also follow news that the Queen's speech, setting out the government's legislative ambitions, has been delayed. In a blog post, MacGregor said it is "clear" to Citizens Advice "that the government does need to introduce some form of cap – and sooner rather than later". MacGregor urged government to move on from "stark" debate over whether or not to introduce price regulation at all, and adopt a more nuanced outlook. "The govern- ment can use a targeted approach to cap costs for the most struggling households without having to cap costs for all SVT [standard variable tariff] customers," she said. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that about 19 million UK households are on SVTs. It also controversially said that market dysfunctions cost UK consumers an average of £1.4 billion a year. Industry disputed the figure, saying it is not based on robust analysis, but MacGregor said: "Our own analysis of tariff data in March backs this up – finding that these consumers are losing an average of £140 a year." MacGregor supports the CMA's intervention to cap energy prices for customers on prepayment meters but said the move "offered little" for customers on SVTs. She also reiterated Citizens Advice's belief that the limited intervention exposed a gap between "the enor- mous costs to consumers uncovered by the CMA and the remedies that have been offered to recoup them". JG ENERGY Eon pre-empts price cap with new tariff Big six energy supplier Eon has launched a new one-year fixed term tariff. The firm says the new model will guarantee customers benefit from dips in the average price of energy while protecting them from price spikes. The new "Cap and Track" dual fuel product comes as government considers how it will implement price regula- tion in the energy retail market. Before the general election, the Conservatives promised their cap would save the average household £100 a year. Eon claims customers who sign up to its new deal now will benefit from energy prices £100 below the market average. The tariff works by monitor- ing the price of rival energy deals via the independent Energylinx Retail Price Index. The initial price offered to new customers is revised daily as the market changes. Once a customer is on board, their prices are reviewed quarterly. If the average market price at the point of this review has fallen below the customer's start price, their price will be lowered accordingly. PAN-UTILITY Multi-utility offer from Castle Water Castle Water has partnered with Scottish Power to provide gas and electricity, as well as water, to its customers. Aer trialling the deal among different types of customers in London and the north of Scot- land, Castle is now rolling it out across a broader customer base. The "unilateral sales partner- ship" involves Castle selling Scot- tish Power gas and electricity to its customer base. However, Scottish Power said all custom- ers will be "serviced under the Scottish Power brand". The non-domestic water market has seen a plethora of multi-utility offerings. Utilities service provider Gemserv said in a research paper in February that the trend could raise "fundamen- tal questions" about the creation of a multi-utility regulator. ENERGY Cuts hit community energy projects Fewer community energy pro- jects will go ahead in the next few years as subsidy cuts and policy changes take effect, the chief executive of trade body Community Energy England (CEE) has warned. Emma Bridge told Utility Week there was a "huge rollout" of schemes last year, as groups sought to get projects running before changes to feed-in tariffs and other subsidies took hold. CEE has published its first state of the sector report, which surveyed 222 community groups. These groups have a collective generation capacity of 121MW, but almost a third reported that a project has stalled or been put on hold in the past year. Legislative plan unclear until Queen's speech Water UK chief executive Michael Roberts said: "Average household bills for water and sewerage are set to fall in real terms by 5 per cent over the five years to 2020." The top-performing English water companies were Northum- brian Water (84 per cent satis- fied with value for money), Dee Valley Water (80 per cent) and Yorkshire Water (79 per cent).

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