Ofgem’s reforms for the energy market sound very sensible. According to the announcements made by Ofgem today, energy suppliers will now only be able to offer four tariffs for gas and four tariffs for electricity. Complex tiered tariffs will be banned and only one tariff structure will be provided which will comprise a standing charge plus a unit charge. Cash discounts will provided for those customers who have dual fuel (gas and electricity) accounts from the same supplier and who manage their energy accounts online. Ofgem is also seeking to ensure that energy bills are easier to understand and by the end of March 2014, energy suppliers will now have to provide bills which show key information about a customer’s tariff and the amount of energy used in each bill.
Importantly, new standards of conduct were brought in last August by Ofgem so that consumers receive fairer treatment and in addition to these, other measures that have been introduced mean that suppliers will not be able to alter any fixed term deals which consumers entered into on or after 15 July 2013, either. I understand that energy suppliers will now be required let their customers know in advance of any price changes and also provide notice 42-49 days before the end of a fixed term tariff. Those customers who choose not to switch tariffs will then be automatically rolled onto the cheapest standard tariff provided by their current supplier.
I think these measures which have been announced by Ofgem are long overdue. Many of my constituents have found their energy bills difficult to understand for some time and a uniform tariff structure coupled with bills that are clearer to interpret will surely make their lives easier. I am also glad to hear that those customers who at the end of their contracts do not choose to change tariffs, will now be moved onto the cheapest standard rate tariff.