Utility Week

UTILITY Week 14th July 2017

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/847993

Contents of this Issue


Page 12 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 14TH - 20TH JULY 2017 | 13 Policy & Regulation This week Ofgem launches fresh British Gas probe New investigation follows £9.5 million customer redress package for past licence breaches Ofgem has launched an investi- gation into practices at British Gas following concern that it has breached its licence conditions relating to the termination of domestic supply contracts. The investigation will examine whether British Gas has failed to fulfil its obliga- tions to treat customers fairly. In particular, Ofgem has concerns that British Gas has not complied with its obligations to customers who switch to another supplier, including its requirement to waive termination fees. The launch of this investigation follows hard on the heels of a £9.5 million customer redress package issued by British Gas to make up for licence breaches between March and December 2015. Its compliance failures in that instance were related to customer service and bill- ing – primarily for microbusiness customers. Responding to news of the fresh investigation, a com- pany spokesperson said: "British Gas will co-operate fully with Ofgem to address the issues raised." Consumer body Which? was quick to urge the regula- tor to take swi action if any wrongdoing was confirmed. Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services, said: "Suppliers should be making it as easy as possible for customers to switch. If British Gas is found to have put off customers who wanted to switch, then the regulator must swily hold them to account." The regulator emphasised that the opening of an investigation "does not imply that we have made any findings about non-compliance". JG ELECTRICITY Capacity market 'should favour low-carbon plant' Low-carbon and fuel-efficient plants should be favoured in the capacity market, the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) has argued in a report. As things stand, the mecha- nism fails to reflect the value of different types of genera- tion. This has incentivised the construction of large fleets of gas and diesel engines. Citing projections by National Grid and other market analysts, the report said up to 14GW of gas generation was expected to be deployed in the UK by 2030 and "as much of this capacity as pos- sible" should be combined heat and power (CHP). To enable this to happen, the capacity market should be reformed to recognise "the lifetime efficiency benefits to consumer value of different power plants". ELECTRICITY MPs to debate Euratom exit Critics of the government's moves to quit Euratom have organised an emergency debate on the issue in the House of Commons as Theresa May faces a dual backbench rebellion on energy issues. Backbench Labour MP Albert Owen, who was a member of the BEIS select committee in the last parliament, has secured a debate on negotiations on the UK's future Euratom member- ship. The Evening Standard newspaper has reported that nine Conservative backbench MPs have signalled opposition to withdrawing from Euratom, which would be enough to defeat the government, even with the support of the Demo- cratic Unionist Party. Euratom is a Europe-wide nuclear safety and research watchdog. ENERGY Four MPs vie to chair BEIS committee A former Treasury chief secre- tary is one of four candidates up to be chair of the influential parliamentary committee that scrutinises energy policy, as UW went to press. Ian Lucas, Albert Owen and Rachel Reeves join Liam Byrne as candidates to chair the BEIS select committee. All are Labour MPs under rules that divvy up the select committee chairman- ships among the Westminster parties according to their share of seats in the Commons. Former chairman Iain Wright was a high-profile critic of the big six before his resignation at the general election. The winner was due to be named on 12 July. In hot water: switching irregularities? Political Agenda David Blackman "Conservative remainers are mobilising around Euratom" With every day that passes, the weakness of Theresa May's government is more graphically exposed. Energy is emerging as a focus of Tory backbench pressure. Big Six arch critic John Penrose is recruiting fellow backbenchers to his campaign to push the gov- ernment to go further on energy prices than Ofgem's limited cap. However, for the fate of Brexit, the furore over the gov- ernment's proposal to withdraw from Euratom counts more. The culture minister Ed Vaizey, are mobilising around Euratom, finding common ground with Labour's front bench. Remaining a member of the Euratom club would mean accepting some kind of contin- ued ECJ jurisdiction, making it easier in turn to argue for a closer relationship with the EU single market. Giving in on Euratom would be a big concession but the PM may have no option, given the parliamentary arithmetic. UK's participation in the pan- European nuclear co-operation body never really figured in last summer's referendum debate. The government said that although Euratom isn't part of the EU, remaining a member would mean remaining subject to the jurisdiction of the Euro- pean Court of Justice (ECJ). Many believed May's hard- line position on the ECJ was revenge for the reversals she suf- fered at the court's hands when she was home secretary. The Institute of Government think tank said the Euratom debate is a "major test of the gov- ernment's red lines" on Brexit. Tory remainers, led by former

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Utility Week - UTILITY Week 14th July 2017