Report on regulation to modernize utilities
uSwitch First Utility cutting switching times
uSwitch campaign urges UK consumers to shop around for best energy deal

In the UK, independent energy supplier First Utility is leading the charge in reducing customer switching times, reports consumer website uSwitch.com.

From next Monday, First Utility will cut its switching times for new customers from five to two and a half weeks, ahead of the majority of other suppliers and regardless of whether the original supplier is ready, the report said.

The switching process includes a 14-day cooling off period, during which time a prospective customer can decide to cancel a switch, as per EU law.

The gas and electricity supplier is acting in response to new regulations that require all energy suppliers to deliver faster switching by the end of this year, an agreement that it helped to push through in collaboration with regulators and government.

Shaking up deregulated market

In September 2013, First Utility launched the Fix the Switch campaign which called to speed up the existing process for the benefit of consumers and new market entrants such as the independent supplier.

The campaign set a first milestone of a three-day switching process, after the cooling off period ends, by the end of 2014.

Government support

Energy Secretary, Ed Davey spoke of his satisfaction at shorter switching times: “I wanted to make it faster and easier for people to switch so they can save money on their energy bills – First Utility’s ‘Fix the Switch’ campaign has helped make this a reality.

He added that his long term ambition was to cut switching times to just 24 hours, to make it quicker and simpler for consumers to save on their energy bills.

Ian McCaig, CEO of First Utility, commented:  “This is an important milestone for the industry. After 16 years with the same process, the actions of a challenger provider bringing fresh thinking have been able to introduce meaningful change that will have a tangible benefit for consumers.”