How energy can use technology to repair consumer relations
The energy industry is currently the subject of much disapproval across the UK, with consumer champion Martin Lewis (founder of MoneySavingExpert) recently delivering an explosive, emotional rant after it was announced the price cap would be updated four times a year from October.
Now it’s all eyes on the UK Government and Ofgem, as the regulator looks at ways to protect consumers and deliver a fairer, greener energy system amid record price hikes and increased concerns surrounding natural gas supply from Russia.
While the seriousness of the situation surrounding consumer bill shocks cannot be understated, the industry is currently making changes to the way energy is consumed, measured and managed via three major change programmes underpinning a transformation in our retail markets.
These changes will contribute to net-zero targets and negate the long-term impact on customers’ wallets.
Firstly, suppliers are delivering against the smart meter roll-out mandate to help consumers reduce energy consumption and lower their energy emissions. This automated solution queries and processes readings from smart meters in 30-minute intervals in homes and small, non-domestic sites.
These meters have received the thumbs up from consumers, who appreciate the accurate and up-to-date information on their consumption, which enables them to make changes in their behaviour and reduce their bills.
Secondly, delivery of the market-wide half-hourly settlement programme is now underway, and when complete, will allow suppliers to offer smart ‘time-of-use’ tariffs – whereby the price of a unit of power varies at different times of the day.
This type of tariff can help facilitate a smart energy system, in which the nation’s energy usage is more evenly spread out, helping consumers to reduce usage at peak periods – and the system’s reliance on additional carbon intensive power stations.
Engaged customers will also be able to reduce their bills further by running their appliances at cheaper times of day.
Finally, implementation of the faster switching programme is nearing completion - this enables customers to switch between gas and electricity suppliers more quickly and reliably and will benefit the consumer by encouraging greater market competition once the option of shopping around for a better tariff becomes viable again.
Only by harnessing the combined power of these new market systems, all firmly rooted in technology, will the industry be able to support the consumer and the environment through the worst energy crisis since the 1970s.
Rachel Eyres is Business Unit Director for Energy and Utilities at Expleo, the global engineering, technology and consulting service provider