Customers

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

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An initiative has been launched to deliver hourly certificates to verify exactly where consumers’ energy comes from, helping them to understand their carbon emissions in real time. EnergyTag is made up of more than 60 companies including Ovo Energy, Microsoft and Google. Its council and advisory board are working together to define a set of guidelines that will form the basis of a market for energy certificates with a timestamp of one hour or less.
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Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action has raised concerns following Ofgem’s decision to defer the introduction of new questions and categories regarding social obligations reporting by a year. Licence conditions stipulate that suppliers must submit data to the regulator quarterly and annually on a variety of areas, including debt levels, disconnection rates, prepayment meters, smart meters, payment methods used by customers and help for vulnerable customers.
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Engagement with stakeholders and customers has never been more important across utility companies. Business activities and strategies are shaped and impacted by the needs and views of these audiences. But how should water and energy companies be approaching engagement to help deliver their social responsibilities and business plans in a post-Covid environment?
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Energy switching rates reached an all-time high in 2019, with 25% of households making the switch. While this level of engagement is promising, concerns remain over the reliability and speed of switching. The energy companies are already paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation costs for erroneous transfers and non-compliance to the time frame, so how can they stop these from escalating in the wake of next-working-day switching in 2021?
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There has been considerable talk within the financial service industry around what the new normal will be for payments post-pandemic. Factors include the reduction in the use of cash and cheques, the rise in contactless payments and the move to digital solutions. However, in a world of ever-changing, uncertain incomes, another change we’ll soon see is greater flexibility over bill payments, including within utilities.
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Latest in Customers

Ofgem is to extend protections for prepayment meter (PPM) customers who have had their meter installed under warrant, reflecting the extended smart meter rollout deadline.
News
National Energy Action is warning of the increased risk posed by cold homes this winter, after new ONS figures show this as the cause of 8,500 deaths last year. The charity has issued the warning on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, in which it was revealed that there were 28,300 excess winter deaths in total last year.
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Utilita chief executive Bill Bullen has hit back after the energy regulator announced it was considering issuing the supplier with a final order over its failure to install SMETS2 smart meters. Ofgem said it was consulting on an order compelling Utilita to install 15,000 SMETS2 meters by 31 July next year.
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New licence conditions designed to improve customer service standards and decrease the likelihood of supplier failure will be introduced in the new year, Ofgem has revealed. In a decision document Ofgem outlined a series of measures as part of its ongoing supplier licence review.
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Smart meter installations recovered in the third quarter of 2020 after a sluggish start to the year due to the pandemic, the latest government figures show. The release from BEIS shows that while performance has improved, installations in Q3 were still lower than the same period last year - especially in the domestic market.
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More than 6 million SMETS2 smart meters have been installed onto the network, the Data Communications Company (DCC) has revealed. The company says October was the busiest month for SMETS2 installations ever, even before the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to all but emergency installations.
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SME businesses were more likely than their smaller counterparts to have had an energy or telecoms complaint that they needed help with during lockdown, new research has revealed. Ombudsman Services, which handles complaints in both the energy and telecoms sectors, says the findings from its survey make the case for stronger protections, arguing that giving SMEs with unresolved complaints access to redress will boost the post-Covid recovery by helping them to survive.
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A webinar to explore the building blocks required for smart, customer-centric field operations in the UK utilities industry, including discussion of ideal operating models, necessary skill sets and the role of digital transformation.
Webinars
Ofgem’s decision to adopt a new classification of domestic suppliers by market share reflects how the market has changed in recent years, industry experts have said. Utility Week gauges reaction to the move, including from former Npower boss, Paul Massara.
News
Pennon Group, the parent company of South West and Bournemouth Water, is eyeing outright acquisitions as opposed to taking a stake in another water company as it “narrows down the potential opportunities”. Utility Week speaks to chief executive Susan Davy.
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Asset-heavy utilities are equipping their remote workers with the technology, skills and support to transform their operational efficiency. Denise Chevin reports.
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