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Energy Competition: No Longer a “Dirty” Word

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I spoke at the Energy Matters Summit in Ontario on May 7. Below are snippets of my presentation about the benefits of energy retail competition.

Residential and business customers want choice and control in all aspects of their lives, so why not their energy supplier? Energy should be like a telephone service. You choose landline and/or mobile phone(s), select the plan(s) that meet your needs, decide on contract or no contract, get special offers or discounted rates, AKA choice!

Watch a video by our sister company British Gas showing how “smart” our homes can be.

North America is a patchwork of systems and regulations. Texas and Georgia, however, have flourished with competitive energy markets. Ontario is an area where competition has taken steps backwards, which is not good for consumers, and they are paying the price for it.

Competition can be attractive for consumers based on price alone. Energy competition also sparks innovative products and services. People can choose different products and services such as ‘green’ products, free power days, pay-as-you-go options and more. UK data shows customers aren’t always choosing based on price.

In fact, here are some things we can learn from the competitive energy environment in the UK:

1. Competition isn’t a dirty word. It can and does work. Competitive markets have worked well for 15 years.
2. Regulators still have an important role to play: monitoring and enforcement.
3. Market liberalization is driven by government policy. It requires a longer term vision.
4. Remember, clarity in market structure drives investment decisions for participants in a competitive marketplace.
5. Moving to a competitive market takes time with the full benefits taking several years to take hold.
6. The role of the utilities should be to focus on transmission and distribution, not billing, customer care or the provision of energy to customers.
7. Moving to a competitive market isn’t easy. It requires customer, government, regulator and retailer active participation to be successful. The industry is changing. We can’t afford to miss this opportunity to embrace a competitive energy market.

Lastly, there are advantages to building a long-term relationship with customers. It’s not just about month-to-month billing. It’s about value-added services, which allow customers to maximize the benefits of competition.

Posted: May 09, 2013