Private and commercial energy customers have been promised a reduced switching time when changing energy companies by the end of the year. After a push from Energy & Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, the UK’s energy companies will now offer a two-and-a-half week switching time when changing energy providers – half of the current standard of around five weeks.The move comes as part of a government push to make the energy sector more competitive. Following on from legislation on simplified tariffs and easier-to-understand billing, it’s hoped that by removing one of the factors that makes changing energy companies to difficult will remove some of the hassle attached to the process.
“I’m pleased the industry has responded to my challenge and will now cut in half the time it takes to switch energy supplier,” he says.
He admits “delivering this by the end of this year is a challenge in itself” but insists he is reassured companies could manage any practical issues and had time to change their IT systems.
With a smoother switching process, Davey hopes that people will be liberated to look for tariffs that fit their energy usage and lifestyle with other providers, incentivising companies to maintain standards in customer service and offer meet demand for commercial energy tariffs which might be more suited to niche customers.
The end-of-year goal is designed to allow energy companies to make necessary logistical decisions on IT systems and internal policies, according to Davey.
Just a stepping stone part of a longer term plan, the initial proposal for truncated switching times was put forward in October last year, and praise must be given to Davey for implementing a change so quickly – though no doubt fast-tracked as a PR move thanks to the General Elections later this year.
Davey says his goal is still to get the energy industry standard down to a mere 24 hour switching time, with the use of smart meters; of which 53 million will be rolled out by the end of the decade.
“While it’s great news we are making energy switching twice as fast, my long term ambition remains to get to 24 hour switching” he added.
Energy UK, which represents a number of commercial energy suppliers, said in a statement that “The energy industry believes in faster switching and will make it a reality for customers as quickly as we can and as soon as the legal and technical challenges are overcome.”