As we rapidly approach the end of the year, the Utility Week team looks back at some of the highs and lows for utilities.

Water retail

By Lois Vallely, features editor

“The competitive market is bedding down.”

You might be forgiven for thinking that not much has happened in the water retail sector in the past year, so marginalised is it by the national newspapers, which often latch onto the energy sector. Look closer, however, and you would find that there is a great deal going on.

The most recent big development is that Chris Scoggins, who headed MOSL (Market Operator Services Limited), is “no longer the CEO”. He left suddenly after just six months in post. He has been temporarily succeeded by Des Burke – a man who knows how to build a “strong culture of continuous improvement”. This is certainly something MOSL needs as it continues to lead the slow and steady improvement of so many aspects of the market.

Switching has seen a slow-down in recent months. October saw a mere 8,397 supply point switches. This decrease, however, followed three months of high activity driven by large multi-site switches. The total number of switches since the market opened now stands at 184,017, representing 6.9 per cent of the total 2,672,477. There are varying opinions on whether this amount of switching constitutes success.

Meanwhile, the market operator continues to try and find a solution to the problem of the current “bilateral arrangements” when it comes to interaction between retailers and wholesalers in the market. There is no standardised method by which retailers and wholesalers communicate, which adds complexity for retailers who are having to deal with 20 different wholesalers all using different methods. MOSL has set aside £600,000 to find a solution – probably technological – in the next year.

In the summer, CCWater published its customer complaints league table for water retailers. It revealed complaints it had received about retailers were up a whopping 237 per cent on the year and warned that retailers must “get their act together”.

It is true things have not been as active as they were in year one, as the novelty of a new market begins to wear off. Next year, however, we are likely to see a lot more activity in the market, as new entry continues, and more companies consolidate. Make sure you subscribe to Water.Retail, and keep your eyes peeled for big developments.

Read Utility Week’s full round up of 2018 here.

What to read next