Utility Week

UTILITY Week 1st September 2017

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Customers 26 | 1ST - 7TH SEPTEMBER 2017 | UTILITY WEEK More than half of small busi- nesses are still unaware of the open water retail market, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater). In the first of a series of online surveys, the water watchdog found that only 43 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers were aware that the water market opened to competition in April. WATER More than half of small businesses still unaware of competition Furthermore, only around 26 per cent had a clear under- standing that choice only related to retail services – including bill- ing, meter reading and customer service. Thirty-nine per cent of SMEs who said they were unlikely to switch or negotiate a better deal felt their organisation did not use enough water to save any money. One in five (22 per cent) businesses did not see the need to switch as they said they were happy with their current deal. CCWater said retailers needed to do more to explain how switching could benefit even the smallest business, through the provision of tailored services, simpler billing and better customer service. Awareness among SMEs has risen considerably since the This week Fears raised over rogue battery sellers Storage sector in danger of 'shooting itself in the foot', says managing director of Powerflow Energy The mis-selling of battery storage to households with solar panels risks inflicting long-term damage on the reputation of the tech- nology, battery manufacturer Powerflow Energy has warned. The company says consum- ers need to be better informed to prevent them from being duped by rogue sellers using inflated predictions of potential savings on energy bills. "Unfortunately, there are a lot of untruths being told about domestic battery storage systems, such as exag- gerated claims about the economics of buying one, pay- back times and the impact of them on electricity bills," said Powerflow Energy managing director Ian Murray. "The average person simply doesn't know enough about the technology to ask the right questions." Murray told Utility Week his company has been contacted by multiple customers who have bought its battery systems through a third party and have failed to realise the savings they'd been promised. In one instance, a customer was told he could save £1,000 each year by installing a 2kWh battery system, even though his solar panels only generated £600 of energy annually, half of which he used himself. The system was also installed in his lo, which Powerflow for- bids to prevent damage from high summer temperatures. "We work very hard to create efficient, cutting edge technology only for it to be muddied by the greedy pop-up company that wants to make a few quid," Murray added. "Without more honesty and education, the industry is in danger of shooting itself in the foot before it's taken off." Murray said Powerflow has received one complaint for about every 100 of its battery systems sold, but his "gut feeling" is many more customers have been affected. TG ENERGY Billions overcharged by big six, says Bulb Bulb Energy has fired a broad- side at its big six rivals by claim- ing they have overcharged loyal customers by £7.3 billion. The green energy company, which recently passed the 100,000 customers milestone, claims Ofgem data shows house- holds on standard variable tar- iffs (SVTs) have paid on average £853 more than they needed to over the past five years because they are not on their supplier's cheapest rate. Bulb says the big six have more than 18 million customer accounts on SVTs, which include 8.5 million households that have never switched. "These latest numbers show that so-called standard tariffs no longer have the customers' best interests at heart," said Bulb co-founder Hayden Wood. "We offer a single tariff to all our members so they know they're always on our best deal." WATER UU and DWI dismiss health complaints Complaints that a change in the West Cumbria water supply has caused health issues are unfounded, say authorities. A Facebook group calling for action has attracted more than 8,000 members, but United Utili- ties (UU) and the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) insist the sup- ply has tested completely safe. "All of the water samples and all of the tests have come back absolutely fine, meeting all the right standards — there's noth- ing there that is going to cause any health concerns," said a UU spokesperson. Residents in Copeland and Allerdale have been complain- ing of upset stomachs, mouth ulcers and skin conditions since UU began blending water from Ennerdale Water with that from boreholes. The change was made aer the Environment Agency instructed UU to abstract less water from Ennerdale because the current demand was "caus- ing damage to the environment". While UU insists the change in supply has not affected the safety of the drinking water, it has acknowledged customer complaints regarding limescale caused by harder water. WATER AWB secures Scottish hotel deal Anglian Water Business (AWB) has won a contract to supply water retail services to luxury Scottish spa hotel Cameron House. The four-year deal was brokered by third party inter- mediary Inprova Energy, and has enabled Cameron House to secure an improved rate for water and wastewater supply and services. The hotel, on the banks of Loch Lomond, said it wants to meet its environmental goals and reduce water consumption. Murray: "a lot of untruths are being told" consumer watchdog carried out a survey in the early part of 2016, which revealed fewer than one in 10 small businesses were aware of the soon to be launched retail water market. CCWater will conduct another survey of SMEs in December, as part of an ongoing commitment to track the shiing views of business customers about the retail water market.

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