Protection for consumers during energy decarbonisation: summary of stakeholder feedback published

The Utility Regulator and Consumer Council for Northern Ireland have published feedback following our joint Call for Evidence on protection for consumers during energy decarbonisation.

The joint Call for Evidence was issued on 7 December 2022 in response to the request in Action 3 of the Department for the Economy’s Energy Strategy – The Path to Net Zero Action Plan 2022.  The purpose was to assess the future need for the protection of consumers during the energy transition.

We received a total of eight responses from the wider energy sector to the Call for Evidence. A summary of stakeholder feedback and resulting areas for further consideration are contained in the document we are now publishing. The feedback is grouped under 14 areas of focus, which includes:

  1. All consumers need protected regardless of their heat or energy source and vulnerable consumers may need specific targeted protections.
  2. There is a need for appropriate redress, which, as an example, might be an Energy Ombudsman.
  3. There is a need for independent, accurate and consistent information, and advice across energy products and services which is easily accessible. There was support for delivery of this through the ‘One Stop Shop’.
  4. There is support for the use of a standard ‘quality mark,’ which would cover accreditations for installers and providers, and post-installation service standards. 
  5. Appropriate tariffs and tariff structures are essential.

The paper also outlines areas for further consideration by Department for the Economy during energy decarbonisation, which includes:

  1. All consumers require protection.
  2. The provision for complaints, disputes and redress.
  3. One Stop Shop.
  4. Development of a Quality Mark.
  5. Tariffs.
  6. Government funding and grants for consumers to adopt new technologies.

This paper should be a useful contribution to emerging thinking on how Just Transition can be delivered in Northern Ireland. 

Alongside the publication of this Call for Evidence, the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland undertook a consumer forum to directly engage with a representative group of consumers to assess their views on future consumer protection requirements. A summary of the findings from this research can be found on the Consumer Council's website.