Citizens Advice response to Ofgem’s consultation on the Draft Forward Work Plan 2018-19
We welcome the opportunity to comment on Ofgem’s Draft Forward Work Plan 2018-19. This response was prepared by Citizens Advice, is entirely non-confidential and can be published by Ofgem.
Over the next year, a number of key changes will have a big impact on the energy sector. We are already seeing unprecedented changes in the number and type of suppliers and intermediaries in the retail market. This creates new issues around conduct and consumer protection. Encouraging meaningful consumer engagement whilst enabling the transition to a more flexible low carbon energy system has never been so important. Our work around Network price controls has identified several issues, primarily around forecasting in RIIO1 that need to be adequately remedied for RIIO2. Alongside this, there are also new challenges to face, from an increased uptake of electric vehicles and the creation of the Research Hub to UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Overarching this, Ofgem has proposed a significant structural change for the coming year, re-organising itself across three core divisions. The risks of such internal reform processes must be given a suitable level of attention.
All of these developments and challenges could have a significant impact on consumers. Some can bring positive changes for consumers, others bring risks. In each case, Ofgem must be sufficiently resourced and willing to work alongside stakeholders, so that all consumers receive good value and fair services from the energy market. This is not a straightforward task and enacting the proposed Work Plan in the desired timescale will require effective prioritisation of consumer issues by Ofgem as well as careful management of the energy industry.
This consultation response is focused on the areas of Ofgem’s Draft Forward Work Plan 2018-19 where we have particular comments. We also set out the aspects of our own work plan that coincide with Ofgem’s. Finally, we welcome the meaningful and readable style of this year’s draft Work Plan. This gives welcome transparency to Ofgem’s work.