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UTILITY Week 8th September 2017

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Customers UTILITY WEEK | 8TH - 14TH SEPTEMBER 2017 | 25 This week PR19 proposals 'may drive up water bills' Consumer watchdog challenges plans to link greater rewards and penalties to performance Water companies should not be offered greater financial incen- tives for outperformance under the next price review unless they have customers' backing, accord- ing to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater). The watchdog also said removing the cap on rewards would "open the door for significant bill increases." In its response to Ofwat's consultation on its methodology for the next price review, PR19, CCWater challenged the plan to link greater financial rewards and penalties to performance under the Outcome Delivery Incentive (ODI). It warned: "There is a risk of a negative customer reaction, particularly if ODI rewards drive bill increases and inflation also rises." The watchdog also challenged the proposed removal of the cap for ODI rewards of ±2 per cent of the return on regulated equity. Water companies including Severn Trent, which made £46.7 million from outperformance rewards in 2016/17, have argued for an enhanced role for ODIs. CCWater also challenged the proposed model of C-MeX, a new measure to incentivise customer service, set to replace the Service Incentive Mechanism. It sug- gests the measure should be split into two parts. The first, C-MeX contacts, would measure customer contacts and complaints handling; the second, C-MeX satisfac- tion, would measure customer satisfaction with value for money and Net Promoter Score. CCWater proposes that these two C-Mex measures are linked to two separate ODIs, which comprise "most or all of the value of the full package of financial ODIs". EB WATER Water2business to supply café chain Water2business has signed a deal to supply water and waste- water retail services to British café chain Boston Tea Party. The chain, which has 20 sites across the South West and in Birmingham, is one of the first in the region to benefit from the deregulation of the market. As part of the deal, auto- mated meter reading technol- ogy, which uses real-time data to track usage as oen as every 15 minutes, will be rolled out at cafés to identify gradual or sud- den changes in water use. These changes could indicate leaks, inefficient practices or processes, or problems with valves. Also, Boston Tea Party will receive consolidated bills for all of its cafes, so it will no longer have to deal with four suppliers for billing and site issues. WATER Whitbread secures self-supply licence Hospitality firm Whitbread has been granted a licence to supply its own water retail services in the open water market. The UK's largest hotel, restau- rant and coffee shop operator – which owns Costa Coffee, Pre- mier Inn and Beefeater – applied for its licence in April. It has 1,081 supply points in England. To facilitate the application, Whitbread has entered into a partnership agreement with water management company Waterscan, which will be responsible for retail functions including meter reading, whole- saler management, paying water and sewerage charges, and find- ing water efficiency savings. Whitbread said the licence would "enable it to build on effi- ciency works already undertaken whilst driving cost and consump- tion control in the next phase of our water management strategy". ELECTRICITY Fast EV chargers for forecourts across UK Britain's second largest forecourt operator has agreed a deal to install rapid electric vehicle chargers across its network of more than 400 petrol stations. The Motor Fuel Group (MFG) – which operates sites under the BP, Shell, Texaco, Jet and Murco brands – has partnered with Chargepoint Services to under- take the first ever mass rollout of rapid charging at UK forecourts. MFG chief executive Jeremy Clarke said: "The growth of the electric and hybrid vehicle mar- ket is an important part of the fuel mix going forward. MFG is determined to be at the forefront of this technology." The 50kW chargers will become part of Chargepoint's Geniepoint network. CCWater says customers must back incentives I am the customer Tony Smith "It has been an encouraging start with no major problems" Five months on from the open- ing of the non-household retail water market in England and Wales, there is good reason to be cautiously optimistic. Although only about 1 per cent of eligible customers have so far switched retailer, it is too early to judge the success of a market that will need more time to gather momentum. Of greater concern to us at this stage is gauging what the experience has been like for those customers. Few organisa- with wholesalers behind the scenes. It has been an encouraging start with no major problems. Retailers, regulator Ofwat, the market operator MOSL and CCWater are working well together to resolve any problems. This willingness to communi- cate and collaborate can help to ensure the market continues to grow and delivers benefits to all non-household customers. Tony Smith, chief executive, Consumer Council for Water tions are better placed to do this than CCWater, which is respon- sible for helping to resolve and monitor business complaints. Some businesses still need more help understanding the market and how to exercise their choice – that's a challenge that all retailers will need to address. Complaints to CCWater only tell a small part of the story but they have increased at a rate we would expect in a new market. Bills and charges remained the biggest concerns but com- petition has also created some new types of complaints. Some day-to-day activities were taking longer to resolve than normal because retailers have to work

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