How are the gas and electricity industries regulated?
According to the Department for Trade and Industry’s paper on utility regulation, the duty of gas and electricity regulators is to protect the interests of consumers, regulate competition between providers, and monitor social andenvironmental issues within the industry.
The main principle behind utility regulation is to put the consumer first: this involves promoting healthy competition between providers to ensure fair prices, and also protecting consumers when things go wrong. This is all achieved by providing incentives for the providers to perform well; and, where necessary, administering discipline to ensure that the rights of consumers are upheld satisfactorily.
The electricity industry is based around three key companies:
The National Grid
What is the National Grid?
The National Grid owns and operates the electricity transmission network in England and Wales.
What is the National Grid’s role?
The National Grid provides electricity to the UK’s electricity suppliers, and operates and maintains the cables in the UK’s network.
The National Grid aims to offer an efficient and reliable service in delivering electricity to its customers, and operates to high benchmarks to maintain this excellent standard.
When would I need to contact the National Grid?
You would generally not need to contact the National Grid with electricity queries or problems – this would usually be done through your electricity supplier.
ELEXON administers the wholesale electricity balancing and settlement arrangements for Great Britain. This affects all of Great Britain’s electricity users, some 28 million customers, and the energy companies that generate and supply the electricity.
What is Energywatch’s role?
Energywatch is the independent watchdog for the gas and electricity industries. Its aim is to ensure that users get the most out of their gas and electricity providers, and does so by providing free and impartial advice on gas and electricity supplier issues, and dealing with consumer complaints that cannot be solved by complaining directly to their supplier.
Energywatch can also be used to find out performance statistics for suppliers, as well as for assistance and advice on gas and electricity bill pricing.
How does Energywatch deal with customer complaints?
Energywatch serves as a final port of call for individuals unhappy or dissatisfied with the service they have received from their gas or electricity provider. If a consumer cannot satisfactorily resolve a problem they have with their provider by contacting them directly, Energywatch will act on the consumer’s behalf to investigate and solve the problem, either by seeking compensation for the consumer, or, in more severe cases, naming and shaming offending companies.
All feedback taken on board from consumers is used by Energywatch to work with the gas and electricity providers to adapt and improve on existing customer service policies.
How can I complain to Energywatch?
Energywatch is now part of Consumer Focus. If you are dissatisfied with the resolution your gas or electricity provider has offered you, contact Consumer Direct either by phone on 08454 04 05 06, or use the online form.
What is OFGEM’s role?
OFGEM is the official independent regulating body for both the gas and electricity industries. Its primary objective is to protect the consumers of gas and electricity services, which it does in a number of ways: maintaining healthy competition between providers to ensure a choice of competitive prices are available, securing gas and electricity supplies for providers, preventing industry monopolies from occurring, and regulating social and environmental outputs of gas and electricity products.
OFGEM takes an active role in regulating the actions of gas and electricity providers only when it is necessary to protect the consumer.
How does OFGEM help the environment?
Part of OFGEM’s job is to ensure that the actions of gas and electricity providers do not have adverse effects on the environment. This is, in the main, achieved by constantly reviewing its operations to quickly identify any adverse effects that may be impacting on the environment.
OFGEM maintains constant contact with gas and electricity providers to ensure that their products always support OFGEM’s stringent environmental policy, and also works to promote energy saving methods amongst the public.
If you require information about OFGEM’s role or policies, visit their official site.
If this does not help to answer your question, please call OFGEM’s consumer affairs number on: 0207 901 7295 or e-mail them.