Today the Utility Regulator (UR) publishes its consultation on ‘Measures to Enhance the Operation of the Small Business Energy Market’.
Protecting consumers is at the heart of the UR's role and promoting measures to enhance the effectiveness of competition in the Northern Ireland energy markets is an integral part of delivering our statutory duties. This paper consults on proposals to build transparency and trust in competition for small business customers.
In 2016 the UR published its final decision paper for Power NI's 2017 electricity price control. This saw the removal of the price control from the remainder of Power NI’s small business electricity customers. In parallel, the CMA energy market review in GB noted some issues and concerns around the detrimental impacts on small businesses of some aspects of the energy market. Promoting effective competition in the small business energy markets, and making sure small businesses themselves have the confidence and information necessary to engage effectively in those markets, is an important goal for the UR.
The UR now wishes to consult on potential measures in the electricity and gas small business markets that will help to make sure competition is as effective as possible for these customers. In the main, the proposed measures already exist for domestic consumers and are not novel.
Whilst there is still price regulation for small business gas consumers, we envisage these new measures will apply to the small business gas market nonetheless, as we are of the view they will not interfere with, but rather enhance, the small business gas market and can co-exist with price regulation.
This consultation follows on from the information paper which was published in May 2017 and lays out the potential measures for consultation. This project is included in the UR’s 2017/2018 Forward Work Programme.