Utility Week

UTILITY Week 14th July 2017

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Customers UTILITY WEEK | 14TH - 20TH JULY 2017 | 23 New gas and electricity supplier Together Energy has said it hopes to double its customer base by the end of the year, and hire 20 more staff. The company said it supplies nearly 6,000 households across the UK, generating a turnover of £5.4 million, aer first opening its doors in October 2016. It aims to have about 15,000 customers by the end of the ENERGY Together Energy aims to double customer base to 15,000 in 2017 year, with a long-term goal of supplying 100,000 by 2020. As the company continues to expand its customer base, it is aiming to hire 20 new staff at its Clydebank-based operation before Christmas. The roles will predominantly be in its cus- tomer service department, which currently employs 38 people. Two senior energy executives, Paul Richards and Geoff Guen- ther, founded Together Energy last year, aer raising £325,000 between them, with support from a private investor. Richards said: "Most compa- nies entering the UK energy sec- tor are tech-focused or playing a numbers game – there's nothing personal about either approach. "We set the business up with specific commitments to cus- tomers: offering a transparent, This week Most consumers want water choice Consumer research reveals widespread appetite for domestic competition to help cut costs Over half of UK consumers favour the introduction of domestic water competition, research by Utility Week and Har- ris Interactive has revealed. More than 1,000 UK adults were asked about their percep- tions of utilities and whether certain changes in the market would be beneficial. When asked if they would like to be able to pick their water provider in the same way that they can chose their energy supplier, 54 per cent said they would. Only 22 per cent who said they would not welcome the choice and 24 per cent were unsure. Among those who had said they would welcome choice, there was a common feeling that "being able to shop around" would allow them to cut costs. Some also said they had noticed a difference in the cost of water between regions when they moved house, but that they had no control over the change in charges. Another respondent said: "At present, apart from limiting my usage, I can have no control over the bills. If there was competition I could make a measured choice." The survey also asked consumers whether they thought they were charged a "fair" amount for their water and wastewater services. Over a third (37 per cent) said they felt the pricing of their water services was fair. An further 36 per cent said that they did not think their bills are unfair, but that ide- ally, they would like them to be lower. When asked if they trusted their water and wastewa- ter providers, 56 per cent said they did. But despite this, 42 per cent of respondents also said they agreed with the idea that the water and energy industries should be renationalised. JG WATER Marston's seeks to supply own water Brewery and pub retailer Marston's has applied to Ofwat for a water self-supply licence, which would allow it to provide its own water retail services. The company – which has more than 1,000 managed pubs and five breweries in England – says the licence would enable it to build on efficiency works whilst driving down costs and consumption. Also, it hopes that being an active participant in the market will drive further innovation and provide a direct customer voice in MOSL discussions. To facilitate the application, Marston's has entered a partner- ship agreement with Waterscan, which will take on retail func- tions including meter read- ing, central market operating system transactions, wholesaler management, paying water and sewerage charges through the settlement process, and finding further water efficiency savings. ENERGY Smart tech driven by efficiency About half of technophiles who have adopted smart home devices cite energy efficiency as a key driver, according to research about attitudes to smart technology conducted by Eon among 2,000 UK homeowners. Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of those surveyed said they had adopted smart home tech- nologies and 55 per cent of these said they were motivated by energy savings. Energy efficiency was the second biggest driver, topped only by saving money, which motivated 59 per cent. When asked what types of smart technologies people would want in their homes by 2020, four in ten (44 per cent) said they would like solar panels and/or an electricity bat- tery storage system, more than a third (35 per cent) converted smart lighting, a fih (20 per cent) wanted a voice-controlled smart hub and 13 per cent desired a charging point for an electric car. ENERGY Most consumers want universal cap Over half of consumers believe energy bills should be capped for all, says a survey of more than 1,000 UK adults by Utility Week and Harris Interactive. Fiy-one per cent of respond- ents said energy bills should be capped for everyone "because energy companies can't be trusted not to rip people off ". A further 24 per cent said they would welcome a cap, but only for vulnerable customers who struggle to pay their bills. The finding follows a pro- posal from Ofgem to introduce a "safeguard tariff " that would extend the consumer protections currently applied to prepayment meter customers to a wider vul- nerable customer group. Many say competition would give them control easy-to-understand service, the simplest bill in the industry, and an aim to resolve to all queries within eight hours. "We've seen strong growth and solidified our position a lot more quickly than expected. That's helped us get to this next phase of expansion, ramping up our marketing efforts and look- ing to renew our first tranche of customers."

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