Column: MOSL review of the year

2016 has been an extraordinary year for MOSL and the water industry as the months have counted down ever quicker towards the opening of the competitive water market.

Ben Jeffs, chief executive, MOSL Ben Jeffs, chief executive, MOSL

With the exception of the market opening itself, 2016 has included every other major stage of the programme – design, build and user testing.

We’re now two months in to the ‘shadow market’ phase and companies are busy testing their processes and procedures as if the market was already open.

When you consider the scale of the challenges ahead of us at the beginning of the year, we are pleased to be ending 2016 in such good shape.

The central market operating system (CMOS), which will be at the heart of the new market, now contains the full market data set and recently processed its two millionth transaction.

One of the CMOS’s central functions is to calculate the charges between wholesalers and retailers, so we’re pleased that participants’ feedback about its accuracy has been very positive to date.

There is still a lot of work to do before the market opens, but as we look ahead to the third stage of Defra’s assurance process we can say with confidence that from a technical perspective the market will be able to open, subject to the Secretary of State’s decision.

Of course the year hasn’t been without its challenges – far from it. Indeed, in April we decided to put the MOSL programme status from ‘amber’ to ‘red’ in order to ramp up our response to a series of challenges that were, collectively, threatening our next key milestone.

We have always aimed to be transparent with our members, so we were quick to explain what we were doing, why we were doing it and how we were working to minimise our impact on their programmes. We are conscious that we are just one part of a much wider technical, operational and cultural change process.

It was a reminder, if one was necessary, of the complexity of what we are doing and the extremely tight timescales we are working to. However, thanks to an enormous effort by the team, our partners and the industry the shadow market began on time at the start of October.

For MOSL the opening of the shadow market was not just another milestone, it was in many ways the milestone. It was the point at which the focus shifted from MOSL’s readiness to participants’ and we moved into ‘operational mode’ to help make the transition into the live market as seamless as possible.

In the meantime, we have another milestone before the end of the year. On 15 December our members are due to vote on our business plan for 2017/18, which sets out our vision for how we believe we can best balance the needs of the market with the wants of those participating in it.

As I said at the outset, it has been an extraordinary year for MOSL and the industry and I would like to thank our members for all of their support and input. Their engagement has been exemplary.

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