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Citizens Advice response to Ofgem consultation: Forward Work Programme 2019-21

4 March 2019

Citizens Advice response to Ofgem consultation: Forward Work Programme 2019-21 [ 280 kb]

We welcome the opportunity to comment on Ofgem’s draft Forward Work Programme 2019-21. Citizens Advice supports the areas of focus in Ofgem’s Forward Work Programme. We welcome the extension of the period of the Work Programme to cover a two year span which better reflects the broad scope of Ofgem’s activity, particularly relating to RIIO-2.

Citizens Advice looks forward to collaborating with Ofgem in the coming years to ensure an effective regulatory environment for energy network companies and in energy markets both for current and future consumers.

In the coming two years, the RIIO-2 transmission and networks price control process will be one of the dominating features of the work of the energy companies, Ofgem, and consumer bodies including Citizens Advice. It is vital that the RIIO-2 process delivers an effective mechanism for delivering innovation, inclusivity, and fair pricing, especially in light of the changing technological environment, decarbonisation, and the decentralisation of energy generation.

In relation to the retail market, we will work closely with the joint BEIS/Ofgem review of future retail market design. We agree with Ofgem that fundamental changes may be required to unlock consumer benefits and deliver the full potential of other industry reforms, including settlement, switching and network charging. Alongside this work, we support Ofgem’s review of its vulnerability strategy, which will set the direction of travel for the sector until 2025. This will need to set ambitious targets that ensure there are significant improvements to the experience of consumers in vulnerable circumstances, during a period of major change for the industry.

In 2019-20 Citizens Advice will continue our programme of work to ensure that the needs and interests of all energy consumers are central to the plans for the future energy market. We are pleased to note that Ofgem’s Forward Work Programme for 2019-21 has a keen focus on future energy consumers, with a recognition that new ways of generating, distributing and using energy should bring significant benefits for consumers, energy systems and the environment. It is essential that consumer protections are built in from the start and we look forward to working collaboratively with Ofgem.  

In the coming year the number of SMETS2 smart meter installations will increase significantly - these meters are key to enabling the transition to the energy system of the future, and the installation process is a unique opportunity for energy companies to engage with each and every customer. Ofgem must scrutinise and hold companies to account during this period. Suppliers are working to meet a tight deadline with the smart meter rollout,  and it's vital that this does not result in a decrease in quality of customer experience or an unreasonable increase in costs.

The response also makes a number of further comments, including relating to:

  • Micro business needs

  • Supplier licensing

  • Development of vulnerability and consumer policy

  • Data including Midata

  • Flexible energy market

  • Reforms of codes, electricity settlement, and charging

  • EU exit implementation

  • Wholesale and retail market monitoring

  • Price cap