Today the Utility Regulator publishes its decision following a consultation on ‘Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs) in the Retail Energy Market’. This paper is the culmination of extensive stakeholder engagement regarding TPI activity in Northern Ireland.
TPIs play an important role in helping customers (usually non-domestic customers) negotiate energy contracts by operating as an interface, or go-between, between suppliers and their customers. Ofgem has previously stated that a broad range of business models can be classified as TPIs, including:
- Brokers or consultants;
- Sales / Supplier agents;
- Price Comparison Websites ;
- Bundled services providers;
- Umbrella/Franchise sites;
- Aggregators; and
- Energy advice companies.
In our Forward Work Programme 2017/2018, under the third strategic objective of protecting the long-term interests of businesses and domestic consumers, we committed to a project to assess if there is a need for 'Energy Broker' or TPI Regulation. This resulted in a position paper being issued in May 2018.
Following that paper, in July 2018, we consulted on a related proposal to ask or require licenced energy suppliers to publish TPI commissions on customer bills where they are known.
We received 11 responses to the consultation.
After careful review of all responses to the consultation, we have decided not to proceed with the implementation of such an obligation. Whilst we support transparency on a customer’s bill, we believe there are a number of risks associated with such a measure which make it unsuitable for the Northern Ireland market at present.