Energy retail

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Ofgem has been accused of being reactive in its approach to assessing financial resilience in the energy retail sector, as well as slow to design new policies to address risk, in a new report. The 111-page document, written by finance consultancy Oxera, made a series of recommendations to strengthen Ofgem's regulatory regime following dozens of supplier failures over the last year.
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More than 20 million smart meters have been connected to Britain’s national network, the Data Communications Company (DCC) has revealed. The DCC said the Midlands has been the fastest region to take up the technology with North Kesteven in Lincolnshire becoming the first area to reach a more than 60% take-up of smart meters.
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Energy retailers have been given three weeks to provide Ofgem with information relating to their direct debit activities, the business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed. It comes after the regulator’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley expressed concerns that some suppliers may have been increasing direct debit payments by more than is necessary or directing customers to tariffs that may not be in their best interest.
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Marred by connectivity issues and a lack of consumer interest, there are still 50% of properties without a smart meter more than a decade into the rollout and the chances of completing the project by 2025 now seem remote. Should the rollout be handed over to the networks as a ‘plan B’? Or should the devices remain optional for consumers but with greater incentives? And will the deployment ever actually end? Utility Week asks the experts.
Analysis
This new report looks at how energy retailers can re-invigorate face-to-face engagement in an uncertain world to forge closer relationships with consumers, offer support and build trust.
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“Truly horrific” is how Scottish Power’s chief executive recently described the looming winter energy bill crisis. As such it’s time for a massive shift in policy and approach. Writing for Utility Week Keith Anderson says with the Queen’s Speech due in a few weeks’ time, the government must consider how to introduce a social tariff to protect those most in need.
Opinion

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The government is looking at extending the time that major suppliers have to meet their Energy Company Obligation (Eco) targets, according to the climate change minister.
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The chap on the phone is worried that a war in Syria could send his energy bills spiralling. Elderly, disabled and on a tight budget, he's got a list of concerns that takes a good 30 minutes to work through.
Interviews
The roll-out of smart meters has seen an increase of almost 60,000 in the second quarter of 2013 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the latest government figures.
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The Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed the arrangements on Monday for companies to manage the UK smart meter rollout data and communications. Contracts for the infrastructure and services are worth a total of £2.4 billion over 15 years.
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