Blog: What’s in a word? Ofgem quibbles with “endeavour”

Endeavour – it’s shaping up to be a dirty word in energy regulator Ofgem’s books. We’re not talking about the magnificent ship which took Captain James Cook halfway around the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Endeavour – it’s shaping up to be a dirty word in energy regulator Ofgem’s books.

We’re not talking about the magnificent ship which took Captain James Cook halfway around the world.

No, Ofgem is taking issue with a misplaced endeavour – in the rulebook for the rollout of smart meters.

Called the Smart Energy Code, it sets out what is expected of suppliers and the firms responsible for the communication system which will carry data about our energy use to and from suppliers.

In a letter to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Ofgem’s Head of Smart Metering Laura Nell arched a metaphorical eyebrow at the cluttered variety of terms.

She strung them out in a sordid list: ‘all reasonable steps’, ‘reasonable endeavours’, ‘reasonable steps’, ‘best endeavours’, ‘endeavour’.

Why use five phrases, when one – all reasonable steps – would do, the watchdog admonishes the government.

It seems like a minor quibble. What’s in a word?

But to Ofgem, it could apparently mean the world of difference. It could lead to “confusion and misinterpretation”, or even “regulatory uncertainty”.

Which, come to think of it, isn’t so great. How much wriggle room does it leave for suppliers and others to do their best, to, ahem, follow ‘all reasonable steps’.

With such pressure – and several billion pounds – riding on the success of this roll-out, perhaps it’s right to be so picky with this great energy endeavour…