Disruptive change ahead in the way we buy and use energy

A thermal image of a house

In the spring, Ofgem announced its Insight for Future Regulation project, and has now produced the first paper of a series:  first Future Insights discussion paper. It sets out some of the dramatic changes in the way we use and buy energy which might come about in the next five or ten years.

First, a health warning – past predictions are not a firm guide to the future, though they are the best we have got.  Between December 2012 and March 2016, the number of active gas or electricity suppliers in the domestic market doubled from 20 to 43. Forecasts by the (then) Department of Trade and Industry in 2000 for electricity demand in 2015 turned out to be 20% too high – our appliances are much more efficient than anticipated. Continue reading “Disruptive change ahead in the way we buy and use energy”

Disarray in fuel poverty policy

In their consideration of the Energy Select Committee report on Energy Prices, Profits and Fuel Poverty (published 29 July), the media focused on the opacity of the energy companies’ accounts, the lack of transparency, and the apparent weakness of the Regulator, Ofgem, in looking after consumers’ interests.

Elderly woman trying to keep warm by the firesideBut the media failed to comment on the trenchant observations made by the Committee on fuel poverty. Here, the Government came in for a lot of flak. The Committee found it disappointing that so much of Government fuel poverty policy centres on short term help with bills when improving the thermal efficiency of the UK housing stock should be the priority. It commented on the hiatus in fuel poverty policy whilst thrashing out a new definition and a new approach, and observed that policy has effectively been frozen at a time when energy price rises have made energy costs increasingly unaffordable for vulnerable and low income households. Continue reading “Disarray in fuel poverty policy”