Are you motivated by ensuring the needs of customers are placed at the heart of service delivery? Are you interested in the role that the energy sector has in decarbonising our heat supply? Do you have experience in independent governance?

Heat Trust is seeking to appoint an Independent Chair for its Stakeholder Committee. Please find the description and person specification here. We would love to hear from you.

Read Newsletter - Winter 2019

Heat Trust’s third annual report was published this week, revealing that they now provide protection to 10% of the market. Reflecting on the experience gained over three years, the report sets out key principles to consider as regulation of the market is developed.

Bindi Patel, Director at Heat Trust said:

“Heat Trust has been working to support the adoption of minimum customer service and protection standards across the heat networks sector since 2015. Regulation is an important next step. With ambitions for a significant proportion of homes and businesses to be served by heat networks, it is essential that heat networks provide reliable low carbon heat and that customers receive the same protections as other energy customers.”

Other principles identified include the need to ensure consistency between different nations as Scotland proceeds with its plans for heat networks regulation, focusing on customer outcomes to allow flexibility on how services are delivered, and integration with wider regulatory developments. Bindi noted:

“Regulation of heat networks is taking place during a time of rapid transition across the energy market. It is important that heat network regulation is considered alongside other regulatory changes in the energy market, and that customers on heat networks can access and benefit from future innovation.”

The report provides a summary of performance of heat networks registered with Heat Trust over the previous year, revealing that technical issues, billing and charges were the most frequent issues raised by customers. Over the year:

  • There were 4,657 complaints recorded by Registered Participants
  • The majority of complaints related to technical issues (42%) followed by billing and charges (34%)
  • There were 63 planned interruptions and 745 unplanned interruptions
  • The majority of unplanned interruptions were due to issues affecting generation equipment

Variation in how different suppliers collect performance data emphasises the need for industry-wide performance metrics – a call first made by Heat Trust in its inaugural annual report.

This report also provides details on complaints that were received by the Energy Ombudsman. The data from the Energy Ombudsman covers 1st January 2018 – 31st December 2018. During this 12-month period:

  • There were 83 complaints within the Ombudsman’s terms of reference (TOR)
  • The majority of complaints were due to billing (60%)
  • Of complaints within the TORs, 63% were upheld by the Ombudsman and a further 23% reached a Mutually Acceptable Solution
  • A goodwill payment was awarded in 72% of cases, the average award was £105.61

For the first time, Heat Trust has been able to include data on debt and supply suspensions. The report notes that this is an area of importance and in particular, identifies areas for improvement to support debt management.

“Our work has focused on setting minimum standards and collecting data to build a picture of current practices. We continue to work with stakeholders across the market to support the sector and champion good outcomes for heat network customers. A government consultation setting out the first proposals on heat network regulation is expected next year. We look forward to sharing our experience and knowledge with stakeholders, governments and indeed a future regulator to support development of a robust regulatory framework.”

Ends

Read Newsletter - Spring/ Summer 2019

Friday 24th May 


Today Heat Trust has published a consultation as part of work to update its Heat Cost Calculator.

Heat Trust launched its Heat Cost Calculator (HCC) in 2016 to provide customers living on heat networks an indication of what it would cost to heat a similar sized property using an individual gas boiler.

Although the HCC cannot provide a bespoke assessment, Heat Trust has developed the tool to encourage better transparency in the market on heat charges by providing customers a tool that allows them to compare against a common alternative.

The majority of space heating in the UK is provided by gas boilers, which is the alternative used in the current HCC. However, a growing number of UK properties use electricity as a heating fuel. Electric heating is becoming more common in flats where heat demand is lower and / or the number of floors in the building prevents gas being used on safety grounds.

Heat Trust therefore recognises that it would be helpful to expand the HCC to include electric heating.

Bindi Patel, Head of Scheme at Heat Trust said:

“The Heat Cost Calculator allows customers to gain an indication of the annual heating and hot water costs for a similar-sized property assuming it had a modern gas boiler.

Recognising that for a growing number of properties the alternative is more likely to be electric heating, Heat Trust has been working to expand its HCC to include electric heating.

We are keen to receive feedback on the proposed formulas and look forward to engaging with stakeholders further as our work develops”

 The consultation published today seeks feedback on the formulas for electric panel heaters and electric storage heaters. The consultation also asks for views data for other renewable technologies where publicly available data is limited.

Responses to the consultation should be received by Monday 8th July 2019.  The consultation can be accessed here.