Thousands of heat customers can soon expect to be protected by a new industry initiative, marking an important step forward for the maturing district heating sector.

At a meeting of key stakeholders, Heat Trust was approved for launch following over two years of industry, Government and consumer group collaboration.

Dr Tim Rotheray, Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy, welcomed the announcement:

"We are delighted that the scheme has cleared the final hurdle in bringing consumer protection to thousands of homes and businesses connected to district heating.  

“As the role of district heating continues to grow in the UK, Heat Trust will be a vital tool to give peace of mind to heat customers. Consumers protected by the Scheme will be afforded a new level of confidence in the quality of service they can expect and a free and independent arbitration service to rely on should there be a problem.

This scheme shows an industry that takes the initiative and works to ensure that it is able to deliver for consumers. We welcome the creation of Heat Trust and its ambitions to expand to cover more of this growing sector over time.”

Welcoming the announcement, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey confirmed Government’s ongoing support for the scheme: 

“Heat networks play a pivotal role in our transition to a low-carbon energy system, which is why we’re backing this new scheme that will give people access to the right help and protection.”

Reiterating Government policy, the Secretary for State added:

“We are on the side of the consumer and have been clear that we will introduce tougher regulations if needed to ensure people are getting a fair deal.” 

The Scottish Government Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing also welcomed the scheme:

“District heating is a key part of the Scottish Government aim to deliver affordable low carbon heat, and in February I announced £2.7 million in loans for district heating projects that will deliver significant fuel bill reductions to customers. 

“The Scottish Government recognises the need to develop appropriate regulation, commensurate with the scale of the heat market. I invited the ADE to be part of the Special Working Group of Expert Commission on District Heating to advise Government on this issue and I welcome the launch of the Heat Trust as a significant step forward.”

E.ON’s Community Energy business is the first energy supplier to commit to Heat Trust. Jeremy Bungey, Head of Community Energy at E.ON, said:

“District heating schemes already bring secure, lower carbon and affordable energy to tens of thousands of customers across the country – and the numbers will continue to grow significantly in the coming years.

“At E.ON we are developing schemes from the West Country to Norfolk and from London to Yorkshire and this fantastic industry-led initiative will show that suppliers are committed to a high standard of service to heat customers. We’ve been on board from the start and I look forward to UK heat suppliers joining us to share in this commitment.” 

UK District Energy Association Chairman Simon Woodward said:

“For district heating to work it must deliver for its customers. Today's announcement is an important step forward for a growing and maturing industry.”