The Past, Present and Future of Energy Market Regulation
Background: It wasn't meant to be like this. Often held out as an example to the world, British Energy Market Deregulation started in earnest in 1986 with the privatisation of British Gas, followed by the Electricity Boards in 1990. In 1996, consumers became free to switch providers with the end of regional monopolies. In 1998, electricity markets were liberalised. In 2001, the NETA was introduced by OFGEM to weaken supplier's control of the wholesale market. And then not unlike the retail banking industry, a series of mergers and acquisitions took place that effectively reduced competition. A number of doorstep misselling scandals led to fines levied by OFGEM.
Today, it appears that all is not well;
• Energy prices are rising much faster than inflation and incomes
• Investment levels are low to falling and not coincidentally, the utilities are mostly highly indebted and poor stock market performers
• Consumers are getting angry and fuel poverty is rising
• Most politicians have been caught on the back foot
So where does that leave the future of regulation?
Will Ed Milliband's utility price freeze start to melt in the face of rising gas prices?
How does David Cameron's advice to switch match up to legislating price comparison websites out of business with a legal obligation to offer the lowest price tariff?
Are we going back to the future - a return to fully regulated investment or will EMR stand the test of time?
Will OFGEM's drive towards simpler tariffs deliver greater competition and consumer satisfaction?
What lessons can energy market regulation learn from water regulation?
To answer these questions and many more, FES has assembled and is delighted to welcome four expert speakers of varying views and perspectives; Professor Tim Tutton of the Competition Commission, Ann Robinson of Uswitch.com, Jeremy Nicholson of the Energy Intensive Users Group and Sir Ian Byatt.
Tim Tutton - The Competition Commission
Tim Tutton was appointed earlier this year to the Competition Commission. Tim is an economist specializing in economic regulation, especially in the energy sector. He is currently an independent economic consultant, an Adjunct Professor in the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College and an Honorary University Fellow in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at Exeter University. Previously, he has been UK Director of Regulation at National Grid, Director of UK Utility Regulation at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a Senior Adviser at Oxera, where he authored the report - Does OFGEM have a future?
Ann Robinson – Director of Consumer Policy, uSwitch
Ann Robinson is Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch – the leading price comparison website for the energy industry. Prior to working for uSwitch, Ann was Chair of EnergyWatch, which in 2008 was merged into Consumer Focus. uSwitch is a free, impartial online and telephone comparison and switching service that helps you to compare prices on a range of products and services including gas & electricity, heating cover, home phone, communications, insurance and personal finance products.
Dr Alan Whitehead MP
Dr Whitehead is a member of the Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change. He is the the Chair of PRASEG, the Associate Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group and Co-Chair of APSRG, the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group. Within the Labour Party, he chairs the PLP Energy and Climate Change Backbench Group and represents the PLP on Labour's Living Standards and Sustainability Policy Commission.He is a Fellow of the Institute of Waste Management, and member of the Board for The Environment Centre (Southampton) and the Centre for the Third Age (Southampton). He is a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Media, Arts and Society at Southampton Solent University.He has served on public bill committees for every major piece of environmental legislation in recent years, including for the Climate Change Act in 2007, the Marine Bill in 2008, the Coastal Access Act in 2009, the Energy Act in 2009 and the Energy Act in 2011. His energy blog is here.
Jeremy Nicholson – Energy Intensive Users Group
Jeremy Nicholson is Director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, which campaigns for secure, competitive energy supplies for UK industry. He trained as a civil engineer with the Halcrow group, specialising in infrastructure and regulatory projects for utilities and their regulators. He spent four years as an economic analyst working on demand forecasting and strategic business plans for a group of French owned water companies in the UK before joining the EIUG in 2000. He is a Board member of IFIEC Europe (the International Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers), the government’s Business Energy Forum, Ofgem’s Environmental Advisory Group, and a Fellow of the Energy Institute.
Sir Ian Byatt
Sir Ian Byatt, one of Britain's most successful postwar regulators, was Director General of the Office of Water Services (Ofwat) between 1989 and 2000, where he was responsible for independent economic regulation of the water companies in England and Wales. From 1978 to 1989 he served in HM Treasury as Deputy Chief Economic Adviser. Since 2000 he has advised the World Bank and governments around the world on matters relating to the water and energy industry.
Program (all times are close approximates):
4.30 - 5.00 p.m. - Registration, Coffee
5.00 - 5.05 p.m. - Opening Remarks
5.05 - 5.20 p.m. - Professor Tim Tutton, Competition Commission
5.20 - 5.35 p.m. - Ann Robinson of Uswitch
5.35 - 5.50 p.m. - Dr Alan Whitehead MP
5.50 - 6.05 p.m. - Jeremy Nicholson of the EIUG
6.05 - 6.20 p.m. - Sir Ian Byatt
6.20 - 6.45 p.m. - Q&A
6.45 - 8.00 p.m. - Closing Remarks and Reception (with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and canapes included)
The Event will be hosted at Allen & Overy as listed above. Please purchase tickets in advance online.