Customers

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

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After a bruising week for the energy retail market, in which wholesale power prices hit dramatic new heights, more than 500,000 customers saw their supplier exit the market and a major price comparison website was forced to suspend its energy services, the real fear is that we have yet to see the worst. Adam John looks at where the energy retail sector goes from here.
Analysis
One of the major price comparison services has halted energy comparisons after soaring wholesale costs resulted in suppliers restricted the number of tariffs available. Elsewhere other comparison services are offering a severely limited number of deals, with only a handful of suppliers listed on their sites.
News
A customer service expert has warned utilities they cannot get away with blaming poor performance on Covid or Brexit. Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, pointed to evidence that after an initial wave of high satisfaction across sectors, consumers were now becoming more demanding and less likely to be pacified when they encounter problems.
News

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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.
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Catchment management has caught on, but Andrew Davey warns water companies they will need more than enthusiasm to reel in funding for schemes in AMP6
News
Forget the ifs and maybes, smart metering is already shaking up the way businesses manage their energy consumption and bills, says Martin Moir
Opinion
Increasing demand by a growing population, climate change, escalating energy prices and an ageing infrastructure are all combining to build pressure on our water networks. How we all manage and consume water needs to evolve to cope with future demand. New technologies are emerging that will improve distribution network operations and efficiencies, as well as making consumers more aware of the cost - and hence affect how they use water.
Comment
Something of a milestone has been reached in a campaign that we have put our weight behind. The campaign is designed to make it easier for small and micro-business energy consumers to switch, and several suppliers have improved their customer communications because of it. CNG and Eon, for example, are among the names that have promised to put contract end dates on their bills, and CNG is also about to join Scottish Power in sending its renewal letters by recorded delivery.
Outgoing chair of Northern Ireland's Utility Regulator Peter Matthews would have liked to have seen more progress on pan-utility regulation on his watch, but is nonetheless proud of achievements. He tells Karma Ockenden
News
There is currently much public debate about whether the domestic energy market is working, whether big energy companies are treating customers and small suppliers unfairly, and about energy companies' profits. Ofgem has proposed, under its Retail Market Review, far-reaching re-regulation of retail tariffs. But at a recent Policy Exchange event, professor Stephen Littlechild, the distinguished former electricity regulator, argued that the retail energy market is working and Ofgem's proposals risk damaging it.
Comment
Retail energy supply is getting more interesting by the day. The Energy and Climate Change Committee put its considerable weight behind support for the demand side - whether as short-term response or long-term demand reduction - and raised the possibility of a feed-in tariff for these contributions. Good Energy has raised the stakes too, saying it plans to offer time-of-use tariffs, adding that option alongside its existing payments for micro and distributed and generators. Energy network companies, as well as suppliers, are recruiting customers to trials that will include more time-of-use tariffs, as well as others that incorporate electric car supplies and, for bigger customers, interruptible tariffs.
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