More Scottish customers able to switch

Moves by energy regulator Ofgem to improve competition in the north of Scotland will mean that over 30,000 customers will be able to switch their electricity supplier more easily, some for the first time. Savings of almost £800,000 could be achieved if everyone switched.

In England and Wales, local authorities are responsible for shared unmetered supplies (such as lighting in flat stairwells), but in Scotland this responsibility is discretionary. Local authorities in the north of Scotland have handed over the responsibility for such supplies to Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE). This makes it uneconomic for other suppliers to compete, because of the overheads relating to the processes and time they need to quote, bill and transfer customers with unmetered supplies.

Ofgem is proposing to remove this need. Instead, the costs of this electricity will be transferred from joint bills to distribution losses where consumption is estimated at or below 350 kWh a year. For customers with consumption above 350 kWh, new suppliers will be able to offer domestic and shared unmetered supply on a separate basis.

Ofgem is also proposing that SSE should set out to the satisfaction of its competitors how it manages the operation of the storage heater tariffs. There are 78,000 customers with storage heaters on a tariff that allows SSE to switch their metered supply on and off remotely, without being notified. This will also encourage greater competition and provide greater choice for customers who want to switch.

www.ofgem.gov.uk