Table of Contents
Who is affected by the changes?
Electricity and gas supply licence holders, gas shipper licence holders, electricity and gas distribution license holders, industry bodies, metering agents, consumer bodies, and other interested parties.
Purpose of the project
The UK Switching Programme has started in February 2018 as a result of Ofgem’s decision to introduce faster and more reliable way of switching which encompasses the creation of a new consistent, dual fuel switching service. The main goal of the new energy switching process is to provide improved switching experience and encourage greater consumer commitment and engagement in the retail market. The new process is intended to help build stronger consumer confidence and facilitate competition, providing better experience to current and future domestic and non-domestic consumers.
According to Ofgem the current switching process in the UK is slow with high potential for errors and failures. A research (Ofgem, 2019) shows that 60% of households had not recently, or ever, engaged in the market.
Responses to the question “Which of the following would be most likely to encourage you to switch your energy supplier in the next year?”
Source: Survey by YouGov commissioned by Energy UK (2017)
Outdated and sub-optimal switching arrangements are directly and indirectly leading to consumer detriment that’s why Ofgem’s intervention is now crucial for customers’ satisfaction. Many customers not only feel stressed and anxious because of the current long and unreliable switching arrangements but it also costs them money. Through a complete reforms package to the end-to-end switching process, customers will feel confident that they can quickly and easily change gas and electricity suppliers. Also, they will be able to benefit from fairer prices for the energy they consume. And they won’t have to worry that the switching process will take too long. The switching time will be reduced from current 14-21 days to 1 day for domestic and 2 days for non-domestic customers.
Ofgem states that: “A reliable, quick and efficient switching process is a fundamental building block of a well-functioning competitive market that provides good outcomes for consumers.”
Registrations for both gas and electricity will run through the Central Switching Service (CSS) which will be managed by The Data Communications Company (DCC). Switches may be requested up to 28 calendar days ahead of the switch date. Xoserve will be the one responsible for the integration to CSS (via adapter) and will support Methodia during the planning and testing of the integration.
An adapter service will be used to translate data to communicate with the CSS via the DCC. All registrations will run through the CSS. All other day to day data flows will continue as normal.
There will be a transitional stage where suppliers need to complete switches within 5 working days (or shorter). The day on which the switch request is submitted is considered as Working Day 1. The switch is expected to take effect at midnight on Working Day 5.
The switch is expected to take effect at midnight on Working Day 3. The day on which the switch request is submitted is considered as Working Day 1. There is a new objection window of 3 working days. The third working day switch is the fastest non-domestic switch. The earliest point at which the switch can take effect is the start of the calendar day after the closing of the objection window.
How Methodia is prepared for the new energy industry changes?
The first steps that we took was reviewing Methodia’s existing processes and designed a plan for the necessary steps in order to prepare for the business change. Once we had all angles of the changes to be incorporated, we started developing target operating model and new processes which were required for the introduction of the faster switching programme. This testing was carried out as part of Tranche 1 as the System Integrator (SI) has agreed and signed off executed tests. Methodia was responsible for creating all test files and their submission to the CSS.
We also adjusted the initial registration form – all the relevant files regarding the registration have been changed to be compliant with CSS switching obligations. A crucial aspect of our future development plans is the connectivity testing. We stay involved with all participants and understand all needs of the market in order to provide adequate solutions. It is planned to execute our test scenarios in-house to ensure that our new processes function as expected prior to conducting industry testing once the Switching Programme go-live.