SSE chief: ‘things could get worse before they get better’

The SSE chief fears the Government and watchdog Ofgem lack “clear vision” when it comes to reforming the electricity market and is worried the current “turmoil” is in danger of […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The SSE chief fears the Government and watchdog Ofgem lack “clear vision” when it comes to reforming the electricity market and is worried the current “turmoil” is in danger of “completely killing” innovation.

Ian Marchant made the remarks yesterday at a conference organised by Cornwall Energy which asked, ‘Are Retail Markets in Turmoil?’.

Admitting “energy is not an easy business”, he suggested the Department of Energy and Climate Change is struggling to tell the public why energy costs are rising because “explanations are complex and don’t fit neatly into a tabloid headline”.

While their approach to over-complicated tariffs – by limiting suppliers to four tariffs – is rooted in “good intentions”, Mr Marchant warned things could “get worse before it gets better”.

The Scottish supplier’s top dog said: “Obviously as the company with simple products we support limiting the number of tariffs – as long as four means four and there aren’t sneaky opt-outs. But there are consequences of this. Clearly the proposal will lead to fewer products and less choice which will lower switching,” said Mr Marchant.

To improve the options, he put forward five ideas for further reform including better measurements around customer switching, better pricing metrics, a clear plan on government schemes, a new measure of customer satisfaction plus recognition from Government that six big suppliers is better than most countries.

He added finding out why people switch tariffs while staying with the supplier is “just as valuable” as why they might switch to another company.