Customers

Examining how utilities are tackling the key issues of vulnerability and affordability

Editor's picks

The majority of business customers were not aware of the support that was available to them during the pandemic from their water retailer as most did not recall being contacted about help to pay bills, a CCW report has shown.
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Plans have been unveiled by the government detailing how it intends to test automatic switching arrangements for disengaged customers, as well as for extending the price cap. The energy retail strategy confirms that BEIS intends to incrementally introduce opt-in switching, while also trialling an opt-out scheme. Meanwhile, legislation will be introduced to allow for future extensions of the cap beyond 2023.
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UK Power Networks will share details of vulnerable customers with water companies in its regions, in a partnership which it believes “moves the industry a step closer to the potential of a nationwide register”.
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Featured

The debate over decarbonisation of heat is marked by polarised views from the passionate advocates of electrification and green gas - each with a statistic at the ready to prove their case. As part of Utility Week’s Countdown to COP series, David Blackman unpicks the arguments and examines the key question for policymakers - what role hydrogen will have in warming the homes of the future?
Analysis
Debt and collections leaders in utilities remain braced for the wave of debt and affordability woes they know will come with the end of government’s coronavirus support measures. Are they armed with the right products, resources and data to service the new scale and profile of customers in arrears?
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New research commissioned by Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has shown that just one in five Brits believe that we can meet the UK’s net carbon zero target by 2050, but that there is also a strong public appetite for a greener future. As part of our Countdown to COP campaign, chief executive Mark Horsley shares his views on how the gas sector must win hearts and minds as 2050 draws nearer.
Opinion

Latest in Customers

An SSE executive has called on the energy retail sector to be clearer on the source of “green energy” claims, stressing that a vertically integrated model provides the most transparent way to do so. Nikki Flanders, managing director of SSE’s customer services division, was speaking to Utility Week after the company recently announced its new business arm was supplying customers with 100 per cent “traceable” renewable power as standard for its business customers.
News
Any social tariffs introduced to help the most vulnerable energy customers must be consistent in their approach, an industry expert has warned. Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy at charity National Energy Action (NEA), talked to Utility Week on the back of recent reports that several large energy suppliers are supportive of the introduction of a social energy tariff for the most vulnerable.
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More than a quarter (27 per cent) of bill payers say an increase of more than £10 a month in energy bills could push them into debt, new research has found. An Opinium survey of 2,000 adults was commissioned by Uswitch.com and the results have been released just days before Ofgem is expected to increase the default price cap. The research found a significant percentage of people were willing to go without essential foods to cover their energy costs.
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Moves towards automatically switching disengaged energy customers to cheaper deals represent an "almost ideological shift” in the government’s attitude, an industry expert has said. Speaking to Utility Week Adam Bell, head of policy at management consultancy Stonehaven and former head of energy strategy at BEIS, said the government’s approach was both radical and conservative.
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Gas imports reached a record quarterly high in the first three months of 2021 following a fall in gross production, the latest government figures have revealed. The figures have been published in the latest BEIS energy trends report.
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A ban on gas boilers is neither a “necessary or even desirable” policy and government should instead introduce a subsidy for heat pumps, an energy retailer has suggested. Clementine Cowton, Octopus Energy’s director of external affairs, was speaking following national media reports that the government was considering pushing back the ban on new gas boilers.
News
Energy suppliers representing 90 per cent of domestic customers have signed up to fresh commitments to support those worried about paying bills this winter. Energy UK deputy chief executive Audrey Gallacher looks at what else the sector is doing to help struggling billpayers.
Opinion
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has advised the government to avoid “picking winners” among greenhouse gas removal technologies and to rapidly introduce market frameworks to support various options. The NIC wants the government to commit to deploying five to ten megatonnes of engineered removals of carbon dioxide by 2030, rising to between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
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Download Utility Week’s report to discover the factors driving industry pilots of open banking technology to improve debt and payment management in the post-pandemic world.
Downloads
The public remain largely unaware of the responsibilities water companies and other stakeholders have to conserve the natural world, or of the work the sector undertakes. Most agreed environmental concerns should be more important than lowering bills or making services accessible.
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Eon UK chief executive Michael Lewis has urged the government to bring forward the ban on gas boiler sales to 2030 as “the best way to give industry the signal to start investing today”. Conversely, he said rumours of the ban being extended beyond a previously mooted date of 2035 would “simply delay the benefits of the transition to net zero”.
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EDF has launched a commercial vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging service with Nissan, allowing businesses to sell excess energy back to the grid. Launched through the EDF’s subsidiary Dreev - a joint venture with US-based green energy technology company Nuvve - the offer is available to fleet owners of the Nissan Leaf and e-NV200.
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