Editorial – Ofgem listens on road trip to clarity

When I was younger, err much younger, I always wanted to be in a band going on a crazy tour. My guitar playing alas was poor, my singing in need […]

By Sumit Bose

When I was younger, err much younger, I always wanted to be in a band going on a crazy tour. My guitar playing alas was poor, my singing in need of an auto-tune, however I had that dream.

I wanted to experience the thrill of a different audience every night, the joy of the road trip in a crap van and of course smashing up hotel rooms on the way.

Thirty years later I got a sedate version of my wish: the past three days ELN has been on tour.

The Energy Live Consultancy Roadshows visited Manchester, Birmingham and Reading on consecutive days talking to more than 150 consultancies about various issues including the TPI code of conduct.

My thanks firstly to all the speakers who gave their time freely to inform the debate and of course we couldn’t have done it without the support of npower who are headline sponsors of TELCA but my greatest thanks goes to Rob Church of Ofgem.

Like a surprise artist who wasn’t on the bill, he came along to the roadshows and did what I had wanted. He listened.

He faced tough questions and he didn’t have the answers but he listened, agreed to go out and meet more TPIs and kept an open mind as the audience suggested changes to the legislation to ensure the code really is what we all want, something effective, fair and rigorous.

Image: ELN / Ash Garwood
Image: ELN / Ash Garwood

ELN has made its name as being independent and fair and what I want from our Code of Conduct Crusade is to get that fairness delivered at the sharp end. Decent TPIs should have nothing to fear but neither should they have to face overt legislation and scrutiny.

Should they have to disclose their fees? Yes but shouldn’t the suppliers do the same too? What will Ofgem do to ensure the code is commensurate with the size of the consultancy? Surely a small one or two person operation shouldn’t have to face the same vast accreditation issues as one of the big TPIs? What about those who use aggregators, how will that work in this system? If there is a licensing body for the code who should be sitting on it?

All things for Rob and his team to consider and just a fraction of some of the points raised in the debate this week. I am glad Ofgem doesn’t have the answers. It shouldn’t do. It needs to spend the next five weeks going around the country and getting the research bit right.

I think this will now happen and ELN will help support this. Please keep sending us your views on the code and we will pass them on to Ofgem.

We plan more engagement with the regulator and will be involved in representing the views of the broker sector. More so I want to hear from large and small energy users too – if you use a TPI, whatever size your business, your views matter too so do email them to us.

The Code of Conduct will happen. Nearly everyone thinks there should be one. But it’s vital it’s the right code and ELN will represent your views to Ofgem and work with them in engagement to ensure the final product is the right one.