Non-domestic water retail

Editor's picks

Defra's strategic policy statement to Ofwat has set out expectations for the regulator to improve the non-household water market in relation to retail, new connections and developer services. This includes protections for billpayers in the event of retailer failure as well as for small, less engaged business customers.
News
The strategic policy statement to Ofwat, which sets out the government's priorities for the next price review in 2024, has been laid before Parliament. The document gives top priority to the environment, emphasising the need to protect and enhance waterways by reducing the impacts of discharges from combined sewer overflows and other forms of pollution.
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Water retailers will be required to return customers' credit balances and make them aware of the risks associated with advanced payment schemes, especially in the event of a retailer failure, under new rules. Ofwat approved the change to the non-household water retail code to add protections for business customers.
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Featured

As part of Utility Week’s Energy Reset campaign, we present a series of perspectives on tackling the cost of living crisis. Louise Beardmore is customer services and people director at United Utilities, the water company covering the most economically challenged region in the UK. In our latest piece, Beardmore argues there is a strong case for collaboration across the utilities sector.  
Opinion
The west of England faces a possible 277 megalitre (Ml) daily water deficit by 2050 if action is not taken. The West Country Water Resource Group has called for significant demand reduction to head off this scenario, along with effluent reuse and using existing reservoir and groundwater storage more efficiently.
News
Water Resources East has launched its draft plan for meeting future water needs in what is the driest region of England. With imminent statutory reductions to abstraction licences to protect waterbodies and population growth set to be the highest outside of London, WRE said the solutions outlined in the plan, which include desalination, reservoirs and significant demand management, cannot be delayed.
News

Latest in Non-domestic water retail

Kraken Technologies, the provider of Octopus Energy’s proprietary end-to-end energy services platform, has announced it is expanding into other utility sectors such as water and broadband. As part of the expansion, the company has formed a new business, Kraken Utilities, which is hiring for another 50 positions to add to its existing team of 250 people.
News
The number of business customers switching their water retailer was higher in 2021/21 than the year before but has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, data collated by MOSL has shown. The market operator said there was also a dip in retailer performance as some continued to face problems with the availability of meter readers.
News
CCW has launched a campaign to support water retailers to tell their customers about any credit accrued on their account and inform them of the risks as well as benefits of advance payments. The watchdog wants all business customers to be aware that in the event of retailer failure they could lose their money and will offer a communication toolkit to spread the word effectively.
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Non-household market operator MOSL has called for water companies to include metering for business customers in their water resource management plans and PR24 business plans. A report into improving metering in the sector suggested targets and incentives should be set out in the regulatory framework to ensure business customers are not overlooked in companies’ rollout plans.
Analysis
Ofwat has confirmed it has closed its investigation into whether Thames broke competition law while rolling out smart water meters for non-household customers. Concerns had been raised that retailers did not have access to essential data from meters but Thames agreed to remove data charges and alter its approach to upgrading meters
News
United Utilities has proposed adding a climate change-linked condition to its executive bonus scheme. It said the incentive would bring the policy in line with the company's environmental and social ambitions.
News
Everflow has claimed to have become the first carbon neutral water company in the UK by offsetting its emissions for the water it supplies to business retail consumers until the end of 2023. In line with wholesalers, the firm is also working to achieve net zero by 2040 by minimising its carbon emissions as much as possible and offsetting the unavoidable ones through carbon removal projects.
News
MOSL has set out its plan to improve the quality, completeness and accuracy of data held in the non-household market operating system to move the market beyond long-held frictions and towards playing a significant role in wider water challenges such as scarcity and achieving net zero carbon emissions.
News
Smart water meters, though not yet mandated in the UK, have the potential to provide significant benefits for the UK's drive to net zero and for customer experience. David Ainsley of Capita explores how to maximise their potential.
Opinion
Water retailers speak to Utility Week about what Defra's strategic policy statement to Ofwat means for the non-household sector. Emphasising the environment and using competition to drive the market are the right calls, retailers say, but the devil will be in the detail
Analysis
The price cap for water retailers will rise by 0.49% for two years from April to cover bad debt costs incurred in the non-household market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdowns. Ofwat has raised the uplift from the 0.31% increase proposed in December.
News
Following an investigation into whether Thames Water's approach to replacing smart meters breached competition rules by hindering third-party and retailer access to consumption data, the water wholesaler has committed to remove subscription charges for data services and provide compensation where logging equipment has been lost or damaged.
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