The energy regulator was attacked on two fronts yesterday as MPs criticised its handling of the smart meter roll-out and an industry chief condemned its approach to companies going bust. Rachel Reeves, chairwoman of the business and energy select committee, said that Ofgem’s performance was “not good enough” after it admitted it had not penalised a major supplier for failing to advise customers how to use their smart meters to save energy. Ofgem was also criticised after claiming that the cost of a string of small suppliers going bust would be “small” and insignificant, despite industry estimates that the bill was likely to run to tens of millions of pounds. The government also agreed yesterday to review the timetable for the smart meter roll-out, which was supposed to be completed by 2020. It admitted that completing even 75 per cent of installations by that deadline would be a “challenge”. Ofgem is the statutory regulator for the energy industry, set up by the government but operating independently with a mandate to protect the interests of consumers. It has the power to fine energy companies that fail to comply with industry rules. The government legislated to oblige energy companies to try to install smart meters to take automatic gas and electricity usage readings in every home by 2020. MPs are taking evidence about the £11 billion roll-out after a National Audit Office report warned that there was no way the deadline could be met and that the programme was at least £500 million over budget with a risk of costs spiralling by £2 billion. The government has claimed that the roll-out will deliver savings of £17 billion, including about £5 billion from households becoming more efficient. The NAO questioned whether these benefits would materialise. Ms Reeves said that the committee was “very concerned” by its finding that a third of consumers did not recall being given advice about how to use their meters to save energy, despite suppliers being obliged to do so.
Times 10th Jan 2019 read more »
A prison is not the first place you might expect to find a cutting-edge energy system. But thanks to a new government pilot, the HMP Sheppey Cluster in Kent is one of a number of public sector sites set to trial new smart energy systems in a bid to cut energy costs and carbon emissions across the public estate. The government hopes the Modern Energy Partners (MEP) project, which was unveiled this week, will help support British private sector investment in high-tech energy systems, such as smart meters, on-site renewables and battery storage, by offering up public sector sites as test cases. Jointly run by the Cabinet Office, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Crown Commercial Services and Energy Systems Catapult, a series of private sector partners have been assigned to work with four public sector sites to develop “integrated energy solutions” that should deliver cuts to energy bills and carbon emissions.
Business Green 9th Jan 2019 read more »