Ofgem launches consumer program, commits to smart meters


Sir John Mogg,
Gas & Electricity
Markets Authority
United Kingdom, London — (METERING.COM) — April 2, 2007 –The UK energy regulator Ofgem’s new Corporate Strategy launches its consumer program, Consumer First, and includes further commitments towards the implementation of smart metering.

Through Consumer First Ofgem aims to improve understanding of the developing interests and concerns of household energy consumers and to ensure that it is engaging effectively with the priorities of these consumers. A project is well under way to compare Ofgem’s approach to determining the interests of domestic consumers on energy issues with current best practice, and the results will be used to inform the regulator’s future approach, especially in relation to understanding the consumer’s perspective on sustainability considerations.

As part of the project Ofgem is looking at the scope for increasing direct consumer input on policy proposals by exploring the use of consumer panels and research techniques. An initial pilot exercise has been commissioned to explore consumer attitudes to energy and the environment through a series of workshops.

“Consumer First demonstrates Ofgem’s commitment to develop a stronger dialog with domestic consumers and to tap into growing awareness of issues such as smart metering and microgeneration to help inform its policies,” said Ofgem Chairman Sir John Mogg at the launch of the Corporate Strategy.

The Corporate Strategy also contains a commitment from Ofgem to continue its work to establish effective metering competition and to facilitate the introduction of smarter forms of metering for domestic and business customers within the competitive metering market. A major Competition Act investigation into the metering and metering services markets will also be concluded.

Ofgem comments that metering innovation is a particularly important strand of work, especially in the context of the UK’s implementation of the EU Energy Services Directive. The regulator says it will continue its work to remove regulatory barriers to the development of smarter metering. As part of this an industry-wide group to set interoperability standards for smart meters has recently been established, and Derek Lickorish has been appointed to advise Ofgem on what more needs to be done to prepare the industry for widespread smart metering.

Ofgem also notes that it will be administering the government-funded smart metering trials aimed at gathering detailed evidence on how domestic customers change their energy consumption when they have better information on how much energy they use through improved billing or smart metering.

Ofgem’s new Corporate Strategy and Plan covers the period 2007 to 2012. Other points covered in the Strategy include the setting of separate five-year price controls for the gas distribution networks and continuing support for the European Commission’s drive to introduce a more competitive market in Europe.