Energy switching services are companies that have come to exist since the EU began deregulating the gas and electricity markets, to open them to competition, in 1996. Progress has been uneven across member countries, but in the UK there is now open competition among suppliers. Pricing structures and special offers are often complicated enough that it's not obvious which supplier and tariff will be best value for a consumer. This has provided an opportunity for specialist price comparison services. These are chiefly offered by companies who will manage a change to a different supplier and tariff, as well as advising on the best one. These companies primarily operate over the Web, although some also offer a telephone service.
Energy switching companies usually operate on a commission model, where they are paid a flat fee by a supplier for each customer that they persuade to switch. This has been the cause of some controversy. In order to ensure that advice remains impartial, energywatch, the UK gas and electricity watchdog, operates a voluntary code of conduct. To be accredited under the code, switching companies must satisfy Energywatch that:
The New National Consumer Council, operating as Consumer Futures, was a non-departmental public body and statutory consumer organisation in England, Wales, Scotland, and, for postal services, Northern Ireland. It was established by the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007, and began operations in 2008 by the merging of Postwatch, Energywatch and the Welsh, Scottish and National Consumer Councils under the Consumer Focus brand.
Following the UK Government's 2010 Spending Review, funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for Consumer Focus was redirected to the Citizens Advice Bureau service, and in May 2013 Consumer Focus was renamed Consumer Futures. It was abolished as a non-departmental public body on 1 April 2014, when it was merged into Citizens Advice.Energy in the United Kingdom
Energy use in the United Kingdom stood at 2,249 TWh (193.4 million tonnes of oil equivalent) in 2014. This equates to energy consumption per capita of 34.82 MWh (3.00 tonnes of oil equivalent) compared to a 2010 world average of 21.54 MWh (1.85 tonnes of oil equivalent). Demand for electricity in 2014 was 34.42GW on average (301.7TWh over the year) coming from a total electricity generation of 335.0TWh.Successive UK governments have outlined numerous commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. One such announcement was the Low Carbon Transition Plan launched by the Brown ministry in July 2009, which aimed to generate 30% electricity from renewable sources, and 40% from low carbon content fuels by 2020. Notably, the UK is one of the best sites in Europe for wind energy, and wind power production is its fastest growing supply. Wind power contributed 15% of UK electricity generation in 2017.Government commitments to reduce emissions are occurring against a backdrop of economic crisis across Europe. During the European financial crisis, Europe's consumption of electricity shrank by 5%, with primary production also facing a noticeable decline. Britain's trade deficit was reduced by 8% due to substantial cuts in energy imports. Between 2007 and 2015, the UK's peak electrical demand fell from 61.5 GW to 52.7.GW.UK government energy policy aims to play a key role in limiting greenhouse gas emissions, whilst meeting energy demand. Shifting availabilities of resources and development of technologies also change the country's energy mix through changes in costs. In 2018, the United Kingdom was ranked 6th in the World on the Environmental Performance Index, which measures how well a country carries through environmental policy.Energy policy of the United Kingdom
The current energy policy of the United Kingdom is set out in the Energy White Paper of May 2007 and Low Carbon Transition Plan of July 2009, building on previous work including the 2003 Energy White Paper and the Energy Review Report in 2006. It was led by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, then headed by Amber Rudd (the DECC was disbanded on 14 July 2016). The current focus of policy are on reforming the electricity market, rolling out smart meters and improving the energy efficiency of the UK building stock through the Green Deal.Office of Gas and Electricity Markets
The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), supporting the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (GEMA), is the government regulator for the electricity and downstream natural gas markets in Great Britain. It was formed by the merger of the Office of Electricity Regulation (OFFER) and Office of Gas Supply (Ofgas).Timeline of the UK electricity supply industry
The following is a list of major events in the history of the electricity sector in the United Kingdom.Utilities Intermediaries Association
The Utilities Intermediaries Association (UIA) is a trade body for UK Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs) in the business energy sector. Registered with the Trade Association Forum it is a company limited by guarantee and runs as a not-for-profit organization, which all TPIs; also known as energy brokers or consultants, (Energy switching services in the UK), which facilitate the purchasing of electricity and gas between their clients and energy suppliers can join. Business energy TPIs work on behalf of businesses, providing a range of services such as procurement, query resolution, bill checking and energy management etc. in exchange for fees usually factored through the energy suppliers. This had led some TPIs to compromise their neutrality so they can earn the most commission through bias toward the suppliers that pay the most.The UIA exists to work with the various organisations involved in the uk energy industry, with the aim of improving consumer confidence when undergoing a purchasing program for their energy. Associate membership is open to all TPIs and takes a minimum of 3 months to complete before any application for full accredited membership can be considered and providing they meet the standards of operation set by the association itself.