The Heat Trust Board met on 28th January 2021 and unanimously approved Modification Proposals 006, 007, 008, 009 and 010. The full report for each can be found on our Scheme Modifications section of our website. 

This will improve customer protection standards, particularly for heat network customers in vulnerable situations, and is part of an ongoing process to continue enhancing these standards.

The Scheme Administrator will now work with its Registered Participants to take the steps set out under each proposal to implement them. The Scheme Rules have been updated accordingly.

In November 2020 Heat Trust consulted on a review of the Scheme Rules relating to metering, billing and Guaranteed Service Payments (GSP). The service standards which participating companies, known as Registered Participants, agree to abide by are set out in Heat Trust’s Scheme Rules. A systematic review of these standards began with those relating to customers in vulnerable situations in 2019, and is now reviewing the next two sections.

Metering and billing are the key points of interaction for most customers with their heat supplier. Customer billing and charges has consistently been one of the top complaint categories over the last three years. When things go wrong or if service is below the guaranteed standard set out in the Heat Trust Scheme, customers may be entitled to compensation, known as Guaranteed Service Payments (GSP).

The responses to the latest consultation have now been summarised and next steps proposed in this report. These will be discussed with the Heat Trust's Stakeholder Committee, which may recommend some changes are put forward as proposals for modification of the standards. 

Guidance

Piggy bank Billing

We have pulled together a compilation of best practice relating to billing HERE. This is particularly important in the context of the wholesale gas price rises, which heat network customers have little protection from, and as 'billing and charges' is consistently a top cause of complaint among customers on heat network registered with Heat Trust.

Customer complaints Complaints

Best practice relating to dealing with complaints can be found HERE. This is a key interaction with customers and we believe that all heat network operators have their customer’s best interests at heart – when things go wrong, they want to fix them. 

ChargesStanding Charges

A summary of Heat Trust's requirements and best practice suggestions for breaking down standing charges so customers can more easily understand them can be found HERE.

ComplaintPre-contractual transparency

A collection of best practice actions to ensure customers are able to see the key terms and conditions of heat supply before moving in, also known as pre-contractual transparency, can be found HERE.

 

CovidCovid

The heat networks industry, with the help of BEIS, collectively produced some guidance on managing heat networks during COVID-19, aiming to help owners/operators of heat networks to anticipate and seek support in the event of difficulties. It can be found at this link.

 

Template contracts

ContractCustomer Charter

See here for Heat Trust's guide to information that should be included in a customer charter. For heat networks, a Customer Charter may be used where it is not possible to have a separate Heat Supply Agreement between the supplier and customer about their Heat Energy Supply.

ContractResidential Supply Agreement

Clean energy law firm Lux Nova Partners, a member of the Triple Point Heat Networks Investment Management consortium, has drafted a suite of template heat contracts for use by anyone involved in a district heating scheme. They were commissioned by BEIS and developed through consultation. 

The template Residential Supply Agreement might be of particular interest to prospective members of Heat Trust. It was designed to be compliant with the Heat Trust Scheme Rules.

If intending to use the RSA template, you would need the following additional information to in order to apply for membership with Heat Trust (with the relevant Scheme Rule in brackets):

  • statement of flow temperature (Section 6.1)
  • Guaranteed Service Payments for interruptions that match our Scheme Rules (Section 6.3)
  • information on Heat Trust, up to date heat tariffs and higlights of the key terms and conditions of the heat supply, to be available for prospective customers (Section 8.1)
  • how to read a meter and submit a reading, and how customers can view their consumption (Sections 8.2 and 9.3)
  • how to operate their pre-payment meter, if applicable, including emergency credit (Sections 9.5 and 16.2)
  • how often the meter and HIU will be inspected (Sections 9.7 and 10)
  • contingency and maintenance plans (Section 11)
  • process for supporting both customers in need of additional support AND customers in vulnerable situations (Sections 13 and 14)
  • bills that include information on where to find advice or answers to queries (Section 15.6)
  • procedure for complaints (Section 17)
  • privacy policy (Section 21)

Please get in contact if you have any questions or would like further advice. 

Heat Trust was pleased to respond to the consultation by BEIS on the Green Heat Network Fund. The decarbonisation of heat is a crucial challenge, and the heat network sector has a key role to play in delivering this. Upgrading existing heat networks and ensuring that new heat networks are fit for the future will also benefit customers, particularly with improvements to the reliability of their heat supply.

We responde emphasising that:

  1. BEIS must embed ongoing assurance of customer protection provisions made by each applicant;
  2. Technical performance and reliability of supply are key drivers of customer experience; and
  3. High levels of customer satisfaction should be an additional factor throughout.

Our full response can be read here.

Heat Trust is the customer champion for those living and working on heat networks.  To fund our activity we levy two fees on Registered Participants: the Scheme Annual Fee and the Site Registration Fee.  As a not-for-profit organisation, both these fees are set based on an assessment of the cost of our ongoing operations for the forthcoming year.

We are mindful of the importance our operations have for ensuring customers benefit from heat networks that are fit for the future.  We are also aware that our operations impose a cost on Registered Participants, a cost which is ultimately borne by those same customers.  We are therefore committed to ensuring we continue to provide high levels of customer assurance whilst also delivering efficiencies in our operations that reduce the costs of regulation for all.

Given this, and following development of our business plan for forthcoming year, we are now in a position to confirm our fees for the twelve-months from 1st April 2021[1].

Scheme Annual Fee

From 1st April 2021 the Scheme Annual Fee for all existing Registered Participants will reduce by 4% from £4.80 to £4.61 per connection, exclusive of VAT. 

This reduction masks a material increase in our planned level of activity for the coming year, and underlines the degree to which we have implemented, and continue to seek, efficiencies in the way in which we deliver that activity.

Site Registration Fee

From 1st April 2021 the site Registration Fee for all new sites registered with us will increase by 17% from £85.31 to £100.00 per site, exclusive of VAT.

This increase follows an assessment of the average time it takes to complete each new site registration, and more accurately reflects the costs incurred.

2021/22 will be a very important year for both the wider heat network sector and the customers who rely on it.  We remain committed to increasing our impact for customers, raising standards, and ensuring a minimum level of protection - whilst also improving the efficiency of how we deliver that.  These changes reflect that commitment.

If you have any questions regarding these changes and how they may impact you or your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact us”.

 

[1] As per Scheme Byelaw 3.1.1