The opening of the retail water market to all companies in England next year will bring innovation and price benefits to customers.
That’s according to Tony McHardy, Sales Director for Business Retail at United Utilities, who highlighted the important role third party intermediaries (TPIs) could have in the sector.
Speaking to ELN at the Energy Live Consultancy Conference last week, he said: “It means choice in terms of who can actually engage from a retail perspective and I also think it would be good for customers in terms of the service that you’re delivering to your customers.
“We’ve seen service improvements as a result of competition so what we do know is that normally competition will actually bring service improvements, innovation, it will bring choice and it will bring price benefits and we would expect all of that being delivered through the TPI network.
To achieve that, Mr McHardy believes transparency and trust are necessary between businesses and TPIs.
He added: “I have been looking for them to actually engage with us and open an honest way. So I am actually looking for them to trust us and I think there’s still an element of distrust between retailers and third party intermediaries.
“In the water market and specifically United Utilities, we want them to engage with us because we’ve got a lot to offer and there’s a lot of complementary services and there’s a lot that we can actually help the TPI deliver in terms of benefits to the customer.”
Asked if he is concerned the water sector may not be competitive, Mr McHardy said he is “worried” but believes the sector is transparent and fair.
He went on: “However if I talk about what we’ve actually have done in water around transparency and fairness, Scotland is a great example of where to learn from the lessons in the energy market. We’ve ensured that we’re very transparent around the deals that are on offer to customers so in terms of the savings that they can make, what they would have paid versus what they are paying, we’re very transparent with all of that I think that’s perhaps where the energy market have actually fallen down in the past.”
Earlier this month, United Utilities announced a merger with Severn Trent.