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?
Downloads
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

More than 13 million smart meters are now connected to the Data Communications Company’s (DCC) network, the latest figures show. The latest milestone in the smart meter rollout was reached when Octopus Energy installed an electric smart meter in Morecambe in Lancashire.
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The government's approach to the energy retail sector in its new strategy have been branded “disappointing” by the sector’s trade body. Energy UK said the multiple proposals presented a confused picture and that the blueprint overall was "looking to address a problem of the past, not looking to the future". Bulb also criticised the approach but consumer bodies welcomed the extension of the price cap.
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Ovo Energy wants to be in the vanguard of delivering new technologies and services to enable net zero. However, the company’s chief financial officer Bill Castell insists that first the energy retail market must be stabilised, to give both investors and consumers confidence. As part of Utility Week’s Countdown to COP campaign, he speaks to James Wallin.
Interviews
Meeting environmental targets and cutting the use of combined sewer overflows have been outlined as key priorities for Ofwat to incentivise in the next price review. Defra has instructed the regulator to make environmental planning and pollution reduction top objectives, in its draft strategic policy statement (SPS) for PR24 and beyond.
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A combination of Covid-19 and the recent industrial action from British Gas engineers cost Centrica an estimated £87 million, as well as a reduction in customers in the first half of this year. The process to update employee contracts as part of its major restructure announced last summer has been described as “challenging” by the British Gas owner. Elsewhere, the company updates on customer losses for its retail arm and services business.
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The government has outlined plans to tackle a market distortion from the energy company obligation (ECO), with a view to eventually removing supplier thresholds. In a new consultation, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set out how it intends to expand the ECO scheme so more small suppliers would be obligated.
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The government has pledged to introduce regulation for smart energy appliances "when Parliamentary time allows". This would set requirements based on the principles of interoperability, data privacy, grid stability and cyber security.
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A government-funded smart meter trial led to a dramatic reduction in average annual energy bills, while at the same time decreasing consumers’ carbon footprints.
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There is a “severe lack of detail” around how vast numbers of new EVs will be integrated into the energy system, an industry expert has warned. Conor Maher-McWilliams, head of flexibility at technology platform Kaluza, told Utility Week that there is a risk of looking back on the next decade with regret if the government’s transport strategy is not fully joined up.
News
Young energy consumers in Britain continue to be the group most heavily impacted by Covid-19, a new Ofgem report has revealed. The regulator's latest survey examining the impact of the pandemic on consumers shows younger people are more likely to seek emergency credit for their pre-payment meters. Additionally, those aged 16-34 were twice as likely to be worried they might fall behind on energy bills due to a drop in income (42 per cent) compared to the GB average of 21 per cent.
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